SALEM, Mass. — Thursday is Hayden Delafuentes' 26th birthday. The convicted murderer will be spending it serving the first day of a life sentence.
A superior court judge on Wednesday afternoon sentenced Delafuentes to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 25 years for the May 2017 murder of Matthew Sabatino, 28, of Haverhill.
Delafuentes was also sentenced to two, additional five- to seven-year terms stemming from a violent stabbing attack on another man, Daniel Doore, the same night.
Pointing to Delafuentes' extensive, violent criminal background, Judge Thomas Dreschler called him a "dangerous individual" who failed to rehabilitate himself after convictions on previous crimes dating back to when he was age 16.
"One person is dead for absolutely no reason ... . This is just a wanton, intentional act of violence," said Dreschler, during the sentencing hearing in Salem Superior Court.
Delafuentes, who had been sitting among this defense attorneys, was immediately taken back into custody by court officers after his sentences were read aloud in the courtroom.
After deliberating for roughly six hours, a jury on June 15 found Delafuentes guilty of murdering Sabatino on Washington Street in Haverhill four years ago.
Sabatino was stabbed through the left ventricle of his heart on May 28, 2017.
He died 10 days later at a Boston hospital after slipping into a coma.
Delafuentes had been charged with first-degree murder. But following four days of testimony, jurors convicted him on the lesser charge of second-degree murder.
He was also found guilty of armed assault with intent to kill and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon causing serious bodily injury stemming from a stabbing attack on Doore the same night.
Doore was stabbed five times but survived. He testified during the trial, as did Sabatino’s fiancee, Courtney Trussell.
Dreschler imposed the sentencing recommendation requested by Assistant District Attorney Erin Bellavia, who prosecuted the case.
Bellavia pointed to Delafuentes' violent criminal record and "strong sense of entitlement he has has exhibited throughout his life."
"The rules simply don't apply to him," he said.
She noted that Sabatino was killed that night and Doore also irreparably harmed. Doore's then-girlfriend, Courtney Valcourt, told prosecutors that the attack also destroyed "a man she loved and shared a life with."
"All because the defendant wanted to act like a big man that night," Bellavia said.
Also, she told the judge, on June 15, after the verdict was read, Delafuentes turned around to Sabatino's father, who was in the courtroom gallery, and said, "Bro, I didn't do this."
"He doesn't care. Nothing is his fault," Bellavia said.
Dreschler, in his remarks, noted Delafuentes was charged at age 16 with attacking someone with a baseball bat and a few months later, threatening people in a car with a BB gun.
At age 18, he was armed with a baseball bat during an argument. In 2014, he assaulted a family member and was sentenced to 18 months in Middleton Jail. Then, Dreschler said, while in jail, he was charged with assaulting another inmate, followed by a December 2015 attack on a woman he shares a child with.
Also, the judge said, while awaiting trial in this murder case, Delafuentes attempted to "import" drugs into Middleton Jail and corrections guards also found a "homemade knife in his cell."
"This is not an isolated occurrence or isolated act on his part," Dreschler said. "He has been given quite a few chances to comport his conduct with the law."
Delafuentes did not testify in his own defense.
Before sentencing Delafuentes, Dreschler listened to victim-impact statements from friends and relatives of Sabatino, including Trussell, his fiancee.
She said meeting Sabatino was the beginning of her understanding "what true happiness was." They spent every day together since their initial meeting and shared a daughter, who is now age 6.
She told the judge how Sabatino would read and tuck their daughter into bed at night, saying "I love you the moon and back. Sweet dreams baby doll."
Since his death, Trussell spoke of how she will still order Sabatino a coffee the way he likes it at Dunkin' Donuts. Or how she can't bare to move his soap and razor in the shower.
"The ones left behind are the ones really doing the time. That is the definition of a life sentence," Trussell said.
Follow staff reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter @EagleTribJill.