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Boston and Beyond

December 1, 2012

Mass. high court to hear appeal in 1974 killing

BOSTON (AP) — It took 30 years for Boston police to get a conviction in the death of Carlos Matos, a 14-year-old boy who was shot in the head with a high-powered rifle as he played in a city park.

Now, almost 40 years after the shooting, Rodolfo Carr is challenging his conviction in the case before the highest court in Massachusetts. He argues that he was denied his right to a speedy trial. The Supreme Judicial Court is scheduled to hear arguments Friday.

Carr was a 20-year-old who was known as “Honduras” in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston. For reasons that were never fully explained during his trial, he and Matos had a brief fistfight on Aug. 5, 1974.

Witnesses testified that later that day, they saw Carr pull a rifle out of some bushes, then aim at Matos, who was standing in the outfield of the park. Matos’ cousin, then 12, testified that he yelled, “Run. He is going to kill you.”

A bullet struck Matos in the head. He died 11 days later.

Boston police immediately zeroed in on Carr and issued a warrant for his arrest.

But authorities said Carr fled to Indiana, where he spent the next two decades in and out of prison for various crimes.

Carr was finally brought back to Massachusetts in 1997 and convicted in Matos’ killing in 2004.

Carr’s lawyers say police in either Massachusetts or Indiana are to blame for not bringing Carr to trial between the shooting in 1974 and 1994, when the Boston Police Department’s cold case squad found Carr in prison in Indiana using the name Ivan Santa.

“Either Massachusetts made a mistake or Indiana made a mistake, but it doesn’t matter,” said his appellate attorney Russell Sobelman. “The police didn’t keep track of him.”

Prosecutors, however, say Carr is to blame for the long delay in his trial because fled Boston immediately after the shooting and began using a series of aliases.

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