HAVERHILL — Four months after a stabbing death rocked the city's Acre neighborhood, a Haverhill District Court judge has terminated the restraining order involving two women at the center of the case.
Christie Jackson, the wife of Evanda Jackson, sought emergency protection in early November after she told a judge she was fearful of Maria Rivera, whose son died Sept. 1 following an altercation on Kimball Street. Jackson sought the restraining order after a grand jury failed to indict her husband for the stabbing death of Rivera's son Izayah Cruz, 21.
Evanda Jackson was arrested after the stabbing, but because the grand jury filed to indict him the charges were dropped. That has caused tension between the families of Cruz and Jackson.
Carrie Kimball, spokeswoman for District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett, said the grand jury returned a "no bill" on charges against Jackson, who had been charged with murder by Haverhill police. The grand jury's decision means there was not enough evidence to charge him with the crime. Grand jury proceedings are conducted in secret and testimony is not made public. The jurors were asked to consider first-degree murder, second-degree murder and manslaughter charges, but they returned "no bills'' on all three, Kimball said.
Christie Jackson said Rivera, the mother of the man who was killed, began harassing her after her husband was released from jail and returned to their home. The stabbing that led to the death happened outside the Jackson home.
On the night of Nov. 5, just hours after Evanda Jackson was released from Middleton Jail, friends and family of Cruz held a vigil on the spot of the stabbing. People close to Cruz searched for answers from both neighbors and Haverhill police officers who monitored the vigil.
"I don't trust the system. There's something wrong here. I need help to get justice for my son. He didn't deserve this," Rivera said as her son's friends, along with his girlfriend, Claritza Castillo, chanted "no justice, no peace" and yelled profanity at 10 Kimball St., where Christie and Evanda Jackson live with their two young children. Castillo lives in a neighboring home.
According to court documents, the restraining order against Rivera was issued temporarily and then extended because a court hearing determined there was "substantial likelihood of immediate danger of harassment" to Jackson. Christie Jackson also requested and was granted a harassment order against Castillo.
While the order against Rivera has been terminated, the order against Castillo remains in place through December 2021, court officials said. Castillo must remain 25 yards away from 10 Kimball St., 25 yards away from Christie Jackson and 25 yards away from Jackson's two minor children, a judge ruled. Evanda Jackson is not named in the order.
Police said the incident that led to the death of Cruz began when he dropped off Castillo at her Kimball Street home between 3 and 4 a.m. on Sept. 1. When they arrived there, Castillo noticed her neighbor — later identified as Evanda Jackson — drinking whiskey outside with a friend, a police report said. She told police that Jackson appeared to be intoxicated, the report said.
Castillo told police that Jackson approached the couple and offered her alcohol, but she did not accept and felt disrespected by his actions, according to the report. When she and Cruz were walking toward her home, Jackson pushed Cruz, and once she was inside her home, Castillo saw Jackson push him again, according to the report. Cruz was eventually able to get into his car and leave, the report said.
According to police, Elijah Cruz said his brother Izayah then returned to their home and asked Elijah to come back to Kimball Street with him to confront Jackson and the other man. Police said the Cruz brothers returned to Kimball Street, with Elijah carrying a metal wheel lock device, and a fight ensued. Jackson stabbed Izayah Cruz, police said. He later bled to death.
The Cruz family continues to seek what they call "justice for Izayah," setting up a petition addressed to Gov. Charlie Baker on Change.org that has been signed by 2,500 supporters. Rivera hopes the district attorney's office will present the case to a new grand jury and offer additional or new evidence, according to the petition.