EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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April 25, 2013

First 'minivan murder' trial starts


An argument erupted, “words were exchanged,” and Gonzalez punched Joel Javier, causing him to lose a front tooth, Curran said.

Some 16 hours later, police were called to a pizza shop near Hampton and Haverhill streets, where they found Gonzalez in the minivan, dying of two gunshot wounds to his back. Girlfriend Taisha Lara went to Lawrence General Hospital to find her boyfriend had died, Curran said.

When he died, Lara told The Eagle-Tribune she had two young boys with Gonzalez and had recently found out she was pregnant again. She also said Gonzalez was a dealer who sold drugs, including crack cocaine.

Curran said she intended to call several Lawrence police officers to testify, including Detective Capt. Denis Pierce who processed surveillance video taken near Hampton and Haverhill streets.

Castro’s defense attorney Debra Dewitt of Lowell declined to make an opening statement to the jury yesterday.

The murder trial is expected to run into next week.

Also indicted on first degree murder charges are: Francis Wyatt, 30, of 12 Woodland Ct., Lawrence; Cauris Gonzalez, 23, of 9 Tower St., Methuen; Yoshio Stackerman, 27, and Javier, 27, of 121 Saratoga St., Lawrence. When they were indicted in Essex County, Castro and Stackerman were serving state prison sentences on other charges. Maribel Villafane, 26, of 114 Ames St., Lawrence, was charged with being an accessory after the fact to murder.

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