The man accused of killing Bella Bond is guilty of murder in the second degree, a jury decided Monday morning.
Michael McCarthy could have been found guilty of first-degree murder, second-degree murder or involuntary manslaughter.
The conviction means that the jury doesn't believe there was extreme atrocity or cruelty in the murder, but it was still deliberate and he intended to kill Bella Bond.
Bella Bond's body was found two years ago, washed ashore Deer Island. She was identified until September 2015, and state police arrested McCarthy for murder and Rachelle Bond, Bella's mother, on the charge of accessory after the fact. As part of a plea deal, she will get time served and two years of probation. She had to testify against her former boyfriend.
With a second-degree murder conviction, McCarthy will face life in prison, with the possibility of parole after 15 years. McCarthy will be sentenced June 28 at 10 a.m., the judge announced.
Friends react to verdict
When the jury announced the verdict, McCarthy had no reaction. Others in the courtroom were emotional.
"Second-degree murder means justice for Bella. Finally justice for Bella," said Meghan Fewtrell, Bella's godmother.
Fewtrell also said she thinks that Bella's mother, Rachelle Bond, should be serving more time for her "parading around" and "lies." As part of a plea deal, Bond will get time served and probation.
"She let me down, she let Bella down, and the person she turned into, I don't know her anymore," said Fewtrell.
Fewtrell said she hopes to make "Bella's Law" which would have tougher punishments for those charged with accessory after the fact.
Bella was smart, beautiful, loved life and cats, Fewtrell remembered following the verdict.
"She loved going to the beach, she didn't like sand touching her toes though," she said.
Michael Sprinsky, a former friend of McCarthy's who helped crack the case for police, was also emotional remembering the 2-year-old. He testified against McCarthy in the trial, and admitted to having a lot of guilt around the case.
"It was very very very hard... but I managed to do the right thing and get clean in the process. Bella saved my life," said Sprinsky.
Though McCarthy used to be Sprinsky's best friend, Sprinsky said he was relieved with the verdict.
"He's a sick psychopath who got what he deserved," he said.
When it comes to Bond, Sprinsky said he wasn't happy with the plea deal she struck.
"Karma will take care of that itself," said Sprinsky.
Defense and district attorney discuss case
Jonathan Shapiro, McCarthy's attorney, said they will appeal the decision.
"An innocent man is going to prison for the rest of his life for a crime she committed," said Shapiro.
However, District Attorney Dan Conley said that they were able to corroborate all of Bond's side of the story from the beginning. Conley did not have positive things to say about her behavior.
"She acted reprehensibly," he said.
Conley said that it was clear Bond loved her little girl, but let her down through her drug use.
"To everyone who says drug dealing is a victimless, harmless crime, I point to this case,” said Conley.
He thanked the police officers, assistant district attorneys and witness advocate that worked on the case over the last two years, giving Bella a voice.
Conley said that Bond will be sentenced in a week or two, and she will be held accountable, noting she's spent nearly two years in prison so far.
What happened during the trial
The trial last just over three weeks, with testimony from Bond, Sprinsky, Joe Amoroso, Bella’s biological father, neighbors and state troopers.
The testimony detailed the time leading up to and following Bella’s murder. The 2-year-old girl was killed in June 2015 and her body was dumped in the Boston Harbor.
The state argued that McCarthy killed Bella, their key witness being Bond. She testified in court that McCarthy punched Bella to death one night when Bella wasn’t wanting to go to bed. He allegedly said, “it was her time to die, there was a demon in her.” Bond and others testified that McCarthy was into the occult, demons, astrology and reiki.
McCarthy’s attorney alleged that Bond was actually the murderer, and that’s why she hid it from everyone she knew, including Bella’s father, Amoroso. The state contends that Bond was scared of McCarthy and she said he threatened to kill her. The jury did not believe that argument.
Another key witness was Michael Sprinsky, McCarthy’s former friend who had stayed at Bond’s Maxwell Street apartment in early 2015. He testified that Bond met up with him at a gas station and told him about Bella’s death. He said he was shocked. The state presented text he sent to McCarthy.
“She told me everything. Can't stop puking. You killed Bella, bro,” he texted to McCarthy.
During the cross examination, Sprinsky said he didn’t think that Bond was afraid of McCarthy. However, he also admitted telling Bond after learning of Bella’s death, "You better run because he’s crazy."
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