A jury in Boston on Monday convicted a former heroin addict in the death of “Baby Doe,” bringing a closing chapter to a tragedy that unfolded across social media after the girl’s body mysteriously washed ashore in 2015.
The Suffolk County Superior Court panel convicted Michael McCarthy, 37, of second-degree manslaughter in the death of 2-year-old Bella Bond. McCarthy is the former boyfriend of Bella’s mother, Rachelle Bond, and lived with the mother and daughter in the weeks leading up to the girl’s death.
The case gripped the Boston area and the country after a woman walking her dog found Bella’s body stuffed in a plastic bag on the shore of Boston’s Deer Island.
With the body were polka-dot leggings and a blanket with a zebra print. For three months, a computer-generated image of Bella created by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children circulated via social media until someone known to McCarthy and the girl’s mother identified the little girl.
McCarthy is scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday morning, WCVB reported. He faces a potential sentence of life in prison with eligibility for parole after 15 years.
Rachelle Bond, 41, entered into a plea deal in which she was convicted as an accessory and told authorities McCarthy killed her daughter after saying the child was a demon. Under her agreement, Bond will be released after the trial.
McCarthy’s defense lawyer expressed disappointment to WCVB.
“It sets a criminal free and sends an innocent person to prison,” Shapiro said, referring to Bond’s plea agreement.
Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley told the news organization that Bond was credible and jurors did their jobs.
“It was clear to all of us that they gave the evidence all the attention it deserved, and that is all we can ask of any jury,” Conley said.
Evidence presented during the trial revealed Rachelle Bond’s checkered background that included former arrests for prostitution and two older children taken away from her by the state and adopted by her mother. Bella Bond’s father, a Florida resident with a criminal history, said he was never a part of the little girl’s life.
McCarthy and the little girl’s mother were in the throes of heroin addiction when Bond went into the little girl’s room and found McCarthy punching the child, who appeared not to be breathing.
According to prosecutors, McCarthy put Bella’s body in a trash bag and, days later, obtained some weights and placed them in a duffel bag with the plastic bag containing the body. He then dumped the duffel bag in the water near a South Boston cruise terminal where he spent time as a teen, prosecutors said.
The plastic bag containing the girl’s body had separated from the duffel bag when the woman walking her dog found it on June 25, 2015.
Mystery shrouded the initial weeks of the case, as authorities tried to figure out Bella’s’ identity. The water affected the physical evidence. The composite image of Bella was shared millions of times, breaking records for such social media activity, the prosecutor’s office reported.
A person who knew Bond and McCarthy identified Bella in September 2015 and authorities arrested both.
Just like Bella’s home life, the trial had its bumps.
There was a bump in the trial as jurors set off to deliberate. McCarthy’s defense lawyer, Jonathan Shapiro, told jury members that if they did not believe was the sole perpetrator of the crime they must acquit. Suffolk County Superior Court Judge Janet Sanders, however, told the jury this was not the case as she gave them instructions on June 20.
Shapiro accused Sanders of “buckling” to the wishes of the prosecution, the Boston Globe reported.
“I’m beside myself,” the Globe quoted Shapiro as saying. “You’re screwing up my whole case.”
The judge replied: “I disagree entirely.”
Bond spent five days on the witness stand as lawyers grilled her about why she did not report the death of her daughter to police.
The defense maintained Bond killed her daughter and blamed McCarthy for it.
Contributing: Associated Press
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