SALEM, Mass. — After deliberating for roughly six hours, a jury on Tuesday found Hayden Delafuentes guilty of murdering a man on Washington Street in Haverhill four years ago.

Jurors agreed that Delafuentes, 25, committed the second-degree murder of Matthew Sabatino, 28, who was stabbed through the left ventricle of his heart May 28, 2017.

Sabatino slipped into a coma and died 10 days later at a Boston hospital.

Delafuentes had been charged with first-degree murder. But following four days of testimony, jurors in Salem Superior Court convicted him on the lesser charge of second-degree murder.

The sentence for first-degree murder is life in prison without the possibility of parole. With a second-degree murder conviction, Delafuentes still faces a sentence of life imprisonment, but parole is now possible. 

Delafuentes 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 Daniel Doore the same night.

Doore was stabbed five times but survived. He testified during the trial, as did Sabatino's fiancee, Courtney Trussell.

The verdicts were handed down at about 1 p.m. Tuesday. Delafuentes remains in custody and his sentencing is scheduled for June 30 in Superior Court. 

Trussell said she was glad guilty verdicts were returned quickly by the jury. She described the past four years as a "hell loop" where she and other loved ones were just "waiting and waiting" to see justice served. 

She and Sabatino shared a daughter who will turn age 6 late this month. The other day, she noticed one of her daughter's teeth was loose — something she would have liked to share with "Matty," she said. 

"Milestones like wiggly teeth and the first day of school," Trussell said. "We got justice today but at what cost? It doesn't bring back Matty. It doesn't change the fact we will never be able to do that." 

She hopes Sabatino will be remembered as "the light in the room." 

"Everybody was happy when he walked in. ... He had this goofy infectious laugh. If you heard him, you just had to laugh," she said. 

Also, Trussell said Sabatino worked diligently to overcome hardships in his life. And while he didn't always have it easy, he treated others with kindness, she said. 

Trussell also thanked Haverhill police and District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett's office for their work on the case, which she described as "tireless" during the past four years. 

Delafuentes’ criminal trial opened in Salem Superior Court June 8, 2021 — exactly four years to the day after Sabatino’s death.

The case was prosecuted by Erin Bellavia and Jessica Strasnick, assistant district attorneys. Delafuentes’ defense attorneys were John MacLachlan and Christopher Federico.

Delafuentes did not testify in his own defense.

Prosecutors called an array of witnesses, including Trussell and Courtney Valcourt, Doore’s girlfriend, who were with Sabatino and Doore when they were attacked and stabbed.

Trussell told jurors they started their night at the Oriental Gardens for drinks and appetizers. Later they went to the Chit Chat Lounge on Washington Street.

But when they left the Chit Chat and were standing outside, they encountered an angry Delafuentes, according to prosecutors.

Trussell said she was pushed by someone from behind and fell. When she got up, Sabatino “was holding his chest,” she testified.

“I just saw blood. He pulled his hands down and all I could see was blood,” said Trussell, adding that she panicked.

“He said, ‘Babe, I’m sorry. I’m bleeding to death,’” Trussell continued. “I was shaking. I was crying. I was trying to hold pressure on his chest.”

Valcourt testified that after leaving the Chit Chat Lounge, she went into an alley to urinate.

When she came out of the alley, she was struck across the right side of her face and fell to the ground.

“I thought I was about to be raped actually,” said Valcourt, who testified she immediately took notice of her surroundings. Then, after taking a deep breath, she said she stood up.

She saw a crowd of people gathered and heard someone scream.

“Then I saw Danny being laid down on the ground,” said Valcourt, breaking into tears.

Valcourt said, “There was a bunch of noise.”

She said she tried to focus on Doore, her then-boyfriend and father of her two children. She recalled hearing people yelling for help.

“He was bleeding everywhere. I just saw blood everywhere,” said Valcourt. “I was just so focused on him. I didn’t know what happened.”

An emergency room doctor testified that Delafuentes was injured that night. He had a laceration behind one of his ears. However, despite the doctor’s warnings, he refused medical treatment, she testified.

Blodgett, the district attorney, described the incident as a "senseless act of violence," in statement released Tuesday afternoon. 

He thanked "the jury for their service and hope that their verdict will provide the friends and loved ones of Mr. Sabatino some peace." 

Bellavia and Strasnick, the prosecutors, were also assisted by Victim's Advocate Michelle DeFeo, Trooper Matthew Murphy and Haverhill detectives Jack Moses (retired) and Rick Welch, according to the statement. 

Follow staff reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter @EagleTribJill.

Follow staff reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter @EagleTribJill.

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