EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

January 18, 2013

Man charged with intimidating murder trial witness

By Mark E. Vogler
mvogler@eagletribune.com

---- — LAWRENCE — Police last night arrested a second city man suspected of intimidating a witness in a recent murder trial.

The Massachusetts State Police Violent Fugitives Apprehension Unit captured Ronney Moreno, 30, of 337/339 South Broadway, without incident in front of the Lawrence Police Department, according to Carrie Kimball-Monahan, a spokeswoman for District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett.

Moreno was expected to be arraigned today in Lawrence District Court on one count of witness intimidation in connection with the murder trial of Jose Ruiz at Lawrence Superior Court.

Jose Davilla, 25, of 13 Cedar St., was arraigned earlier this week on a similar charge in connection with the same trial. He was ordered held on $100,000 cash bail.

Meanwhile, police continue to seek a third city man implicated in the witness initimidation scheme. Rafael Rodriguez, 22, 28 Juniper St., #1, remained at large last night.

Davilla and Rodriguez are accused of posting pictures of two witnesses in the murder trial of Ruiz, who was convicted of murder Monday and sentenced to life with the possibility of parole for the 2009 killing of Rolando Fuentes, 33, of Methuen. Fuentes’ death led his brother Orlando Fuentes to shoot a relative of Ruiz in the neck less than an hour later on Willow Street.

Moreno was not initially named when police arrested Davilla earlier this week.

“As the investigation progressed, we identified another individual in this case,” Lawrence police Chief John Romero said last night, referring to Moreno.

According to the police affidavit, Davilla and Rodriguez posted at least two pictures on the popular photo-sharing website Instagram of two key murder trial witnesses over the weekend, adding text that essentially called them snitches. One of the witnesses was in fear of his life, and had heard from friends that retribution was being planned. Friends were being told over the weekend to avoid the two witnesses.

Police determined that the pictures were posted on accounts registered to Davilla and Rodriguez, according to the affidavit.

A jury found Ruiz guilty of second-degree murder in Lawrence Superior Court Monday following a five-day trial. Judge Richard Welch III sentenced Ruiz to life in prison with the possibility of parole. Ruiz was also convicted of carrying a firearm without a license and sentenced to four to five years, to be served concurrently.

Anyone with information on Rodriguez’ whereabouts is urged to call Lawrence Police at 978-794-5900. The identity of callers and witnesses will be kept confidential, Romero said.