EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

October 18, 2012

Life in prison for La Guira nightclub murderer

LAWRENCE — The man who sprayed a nightclub with gunfire from a semi-automatic weapon cried at times and held a Kleenex to his eyes as he faced up to the fact he will be spending the rest of his life in prison for the murders of two people.

Johan Saint Clair of Lawrence was not the only one who shed tears.

Family and friends of one of the victims told how her two children will grow up without their mother.

A week into his trial, Saint Clair of Lawrence, pleaded guilty yesterday to opening fire in the packed La Guira nightclub, killing two people and wounding two others.

The plea was somewhat unexpected. The day before, Saint Clair’s defense attorney Russell Sobelman said his client wanted to testify in his own defense that he was not the real shooter.

But instead, Saint Clair, 32, was sentenced yesterday to life in state prison and other prison terms after he pleaded guilty to seven felony counts leveled against him after the Sept. 6, 2010 shootings at the now-closed nightclub at 205 Broadway.

“Obviously, you ended the lives of two people without any justification whatsoever ... lives were destroyed because of your actions,” Judge Richard Welch told Saint Clair in Lawrence Superior Court. Welch said he fully supported the guilty plea because the trial evidence against Saint Clair was “absolutely overwhelming.”

“I’ve never seen a more overwhelming case and I’ve been on the bench close to 18 years,” Welch said.

The father of three admitted to bringing a .40 caliber Smith and Wesson semi-automatic handgun into the club at midnight and firing at least six shots, possibly more. Killed were Juan Esteban Suazo-Soto, 34, of Hyde Park, and Amarilis Roldan, 24, of Dorchester. La Guira waitress Valerie Verdejo and patron Jose Luis Medrano Baez, were wounded.

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