EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

October 22, 2013

Man gets 15-20 in fatal stabbing

Judge says Christensen's anger makes him a danger to others


Then, as Olingy had done during the trial, he disputed a report filed in support of the hospitalization of his son that said the boy had threatened to murder both parents with a knife in their sleep.

Buxton had raised that incident during her sentencing argument. And she referred to another incident, this one while Christensen was held at Middleton Jail, in which he allegedly told a cellmate that he’d kill him, warning, “I’ve killed before, and I’ll do it again.”

The prosecutor also referred to an incident at Middleton Jail in which Christensen was charged with swinging a bar of soap inside a sock or pillowcase at a corrections officer in retaliation for being warned to quiet down the night before.

After that incident, Christensen was transferred to the Cambridge Jail, in Middlesex County.

That’s where, the judge learned from Buso and Christensen’s father, a friend of Dean Christensen works as a supervising correctional officer.

Kevin Paige, who works for the Middlesex Sheriff’s Department, wrote a letter of support for Christensen that Buso read to the judge. Because the letter was placed in the non-public probation file for Christensen, it could not be determined whether Paige wrote it on official state letterhead, but Paige said in the letter he believes Christensen would “be able to overcome his situation ... and move beyond this tragic event” if given a shorter prison term.

Vernazzaro’s family members said he too had a difficult upbringing, born somewhat unexpectedly to a mother who, in her 40s wasn’t planning for more kids and a father who struggled with alcohol and was diagnosed with cancer shortly before Vernazzaro’s death.

And while they acknowledge that he hadn’t always made the wisest choices, “he had a giant heart.”

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