The Supreme Judicial Court today upheld Harold Parker's first-degree murder conviction for the 2001 murder of Io Nachtwey, a homeless woman from Hawaii who was stabbed and then beaten in the head with nunchucks before her body was dumped into the Charles from the Grand Junction railroad bridge over the Charles River.
Parker was one of four men who rounded up several homeless people at the Pit in Harvard Square as members of what was supposed to be a Crips gang but turned out to be a front for the rival Latin Kings gang. The homeless people were ordered to go out on robbery "missions," but Parker and the other three kept Nachtwey with them at a Braintree motel, at least until the whole scheme fell apart when some of the homeless people realized what was going on and planned to rebel.
Parker and the others decided to kill Nachtwey to keep her from fingering them; Parker did not plunge the knife into her, but was at the scene when she was killed and did nothing to stop her death, according to the SJC recounting of the case:
As the women walked along the tracks of a railroad bridge that spanned the Charles River, Ismael shouted "green light." As planned, Alleyne and White pulled the victim to the ground; Davenport approached and stabbed the victim repeatedly, and then Luis ran to them and struck the victim in the head several times with a pair of "nunchucks." Luis and Davenport then threw the victim's body into the Charles River.
The defendant and others were arrested hours later for kidnapping another individual whom they believed had turned against them. While in custody, the defendant was questioned about the victim's death. Among other things, the defendant told investigators that he knew that the victim would be killed and was against it, but that other members threatened to kill him and stripped him of his rank in the gang. He also stated that he was approximately twenty feet away from where the victim was killed. Later in the interview, when asked if he killed the victim, he responded, "You don't understand that someone at my level doesn't have to do any dirt work," and "[W]hen it comes to trial your witnesses won't make it."
In its ruling, the state's highest court ruled neither prosecutors nor the trial judge did anything wrong and that it therefore had no reason to overturn the verdict, which brought with it a mandatory sentence of life without parole. In 2012, the court This is also upheld Parker's sentence - and that of the three other men who were convicted.