DANVERS — A young Danvers man may spend the rest of his life in prison after admitting yesterday to beating and stabbing his father to death in their Auburn Street home.
An emotional and soft-spoken Stephen Anastasi, 26, pleaded guilty in Lawrence Superior Court to second-degree murder for the Nov. 11, 2011, death of his father, John Anastasi, 60.
John Anastasi was the only person, relatives said, who had stuck by his troubled son through years of drug abuse and violence.
“There is nothing I can do to bring my father back,” a barely audible Anastasi told the courtroom. “He was a great person. I miss my father. I never meant for this to happen.”
John Anastasi was the longtime owner of Farmer John’s Produce in Gloucester, where he worked up to 70 hours a week. Sometimes, his son said yesterday, he worked for his dad, after leaving Danvers High School in his senior year without graduating.
Under the law, Anastasi’s plea to second-degree murder brought an automatic life sentence in prison from Judge Mary Ames. However, he will be eligible for parole after he serves 15 years. Had he been convicted of first-degree murder, the charge he had faced originally, there would have been no possibility of parole.
Anastasi’s plea was the result of an agreement reached between the district attorney’s office and Anastasi’s defense lawyer, who had planned to raise the defense that his client lacked criminal responsibility due to his use of heroin at the time of the crime.
“All homicides are tragic, and the court sits in wonderment as to how we get to that point,” Ames said. “These kinds of cases,” in which one family member kills another, “these are just the saddest cases of all.”
“My brother is dead today because he loved his son,” said Salvatore Anastasi, the victim’s brother and the defendant’s uncle.