EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

September 12, 2013

Third person sentenced to life for 2009 murder

LAWRENCE — Joel Javier, 27, of Lawrence has been convicted of first-degree murder for his part in the so-called “Minivan Murder” case in 2009.

Judge Mary Ames sentenced Javier Monday in Lawrence Superior Court to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the death of Robert Gonzalez.

Essex Assistant District Attorney Jean Curran proved that the defendant, who lost his tooth in an argument with the victim in the early morning hours of Jan. 10, 2009, shared the intention to kill the victim with others. Javier’s previous trial ended in a mistrial on June 21, 2013.

Two others have stood trial this summer in connection with this murder. Yoshio Stackerman, 28, was found guilty of murder in the second degree on July 12 and was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole.

Cauris Gonzalez, 23, of Methuen, was found guilty of first degree murder on Aug. 2 and was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. She was the driver of the get-away car.

Gonzalez, 20, was killed after a group gathered outside a Broadway restaurant early on Jan. 10, 2009. An argument erupted and Gonzalez punched Javier, causing him to lose a front tooth, police said.

Some 16 hours later, police were called to a pizza shop near Hampton and Haverhill streets, where they found Gonzalez in a minivan with two gunshot wounds to his back.

Gonzalez was initially driving a minivan found at 486 Haverhill St. But police said he dove into the passenger’s seat that evening, desperately trying to avoid two “execution style” gunmen who opened fire on the vehicle that night.

ADA Curran praised the work of Massachusetts State Police Lt. Norman Zuk, Trooper Josh Ulrich, Lawrence Detectives Jay Haggerty and Carlos Cueva and Lawrence Police Captain Dennis Pierce.

Javier was represented by Attorney Kevin Mitchell.

In May, a jury acquitted Thomas Castro, 30, of Lawrence, in connection with the murder.

Also facing first-degree murder charges in Gonzalez’s death is Francis Wyatt, 30, of 12 Woodland Ct., Lawrence. Maribel Villafane, 26, of 114 Ames St., Lawrence, was also charged with being an accessory after the fact.

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