Punishments don’t always fit the crimes
DIFFICULT DECISION: Judge Carol S. Ball deliberates over the sentencing of Latoya Thomas-Dickson yesterday in Suffolk Superior Court.
By Peter Gelzinis | Wednesday, December 8, 2010 | http://www.bostonherald.com | Columnists
Photo by Matthew West
Christmas did not come early for Latoya Thomas-Dickson yesterday.
A Suffolk judge did not place an electronic bracelet on this 21-year-old woman’s ankle and allow her to go home with her mother. Because this is not your typical redemption story.
Last week, a pair of stone killers, Antwan “Twizz” Carter and Latoya’s ex-boyfriend, Daniel Pinckney Jr., were found guilty of the brazen daylight murder of 18-year-old Cedirick Steele.
Latoya’s testimony played a crucial role in removing two thugs from the street. Sadly, her journey toward the truth took an abrupt detour into perjury, ending one trial with a hung jury.
The state says if you commit perjury in a murder case, you go to jail for the rest of your life.
In the streets where Latoya grew up, the punishment for telling the truth to the police is death and, in this case, the death of her mother as well.
Latoya’s court-appointed lawyer, Andrew Stockwell-Alpert, told Judge Carol S. Ball when he had his client plead guilty to perjury, he never sought a deal from Suffolk prosecutors in exchange for her truthful testimony. He said he knew Latoya would’ve been shredded by Carter and Pinckney’s defense lawyers if a deal had been in play. Then the two killers may well have skated back to their gang, the Mass Ave. Hornets.
The level of intimidation Latoya endured, her lawyer told the judge, was not much different than the fear you’d once find in the drug capital of Medellin. The homicide cops who stood with Latoya’s mother yesterday would agree.
They understood that Latoya was not going home on a bracelet, but they wanted no more than a year in MCI-Framingham.
Suffolk prosecutor Mark Lee recommended three to four years. The judge shaved off a year, sending Latoya away for up to three years.
One furious cop jawed with the prosecutor in the corridor. As for Latoya, who stood handcuffed in the arraignment dock, when she realized she wasn’t going home with a mother battling lupus, her look of disbelief morphed into fear, then anger.
“Are you serious!” she yelled as she was led off to jail.
Perjury was addressed. Nobody was happy.
That included Natasha Steele, Cedirick’s mother, who spent about 20 minutes huddling with Kalda Thomas, Latoya’s mom.
“I told her I wished them both well. I said no matter what happens, she still has her daughter. But I don’t have Cedirick. He’s gone.”
Rev. Eugene Rivers said the message sent by the court may be different from the one received in the street. “Bottom line,” sighed Rivers, “on the street level, the executive summary of this situation will be simple: ‘No good deed goes unpunished.’ ”
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