The verdict from the trial of State Representative Carlos Henriquez has left the community reeling in disbelief and extremely frustrated. The media frenzy and tongue wagging campaign has not lent itself to the reality of the case and the trial itself. Here we will point out some major concerns from the trial made up of a combination of testimony from witnesses and media reports from the trial.
The Blackstonian will issue more analysis of the case and trial in the very near future. For now, let us as a community consider that this man Carlos Henriquez who has maintained his innocence from day 1 and has already begun the process of appeal, may in fact be not guilty of the crime despite the fact that a jury found him guilty on 2 misdemeanor charges. We cannot be so naive and absent minded about our own history and the ever increasing effects of the failures of the just-us system to think that everyone who is convicted by a jury is absolutely guilty.
The issue of wrongful convictions and incarceration has been one that has been on the scene since the supposed end of slavery. The wrongful imprisonment argument is usually evidenced by the big charges like Murder and Rape and we see time and time again Black & Latino men returning from 10-15-20-30-40 year sentences. While our attention is often drawn to the bigger charges which lead to longer sentences and in some cases death row, we have to understand that it is the everyday practice of wrongful convictions for drugs, assault & battery, domestics and the like that actually feed the beast and keep the gears that grind us to dust turning.
MAJOR CONCERNS REGARDING HENRIQUEZ CONVICTION
- Contrary to what Gonsalves tried to portray, her relationship with Henriquez was sexual not romantic they were not a couple or dating.
- They only knew each other for about 5 months and saw each other a handful of times, roughly once a month.
- On the night of the incident, Gonsalves was at her mother’s house in Arlington (she lived in Somerville) at a party for her 21-year old sister. They were drinking and Gonsalves was texting Henriquez about her and her family getting naked with strippers and wanting to see him.
- Henriquez got there to pick her up and then Gonsalves’ mother didn’t want her to leave.
- Gonsalves claims that they pulled a little further down the street to “make out” and they were both in the backseat. A condom wrapper was found in the car and at trial Gonsalves said she had “no idea where that came from.”
- Gonsalves claimed Henriquez got mad that she would not leave with him to have sex and smacked, punched, and choked her. When trial first started, Gonsalves’ lawyer tried to call this a “sexual assault case.”
- Initially, Gonsalves said she was recording their conversation and Henriquez took her phone and SIM card, but then had to recant because phone records showed her phone wasn’t even on.
- Gonsalves also said that Henriquez got out of the car or jumped over the seats into the driver’s seat. Gonsalves couldn’t explain how that happened or how she never had the chance to get out of the car. Gonsalves said “I don’t recall.”
- Gonsalves answered “I don’t recall” to about 40 of the questions and at one point even said it was because this was over 3 years ago. It was actually about a year and a half ago.
- Henriquez had a Zipcar and the company’s computers showed that the car was unlocked for most of the time that he had it, though it can’t show if child locks are on.
- A video from Northeastern University showed Gonsalves right after she got on campus. Gonsalves entered a building, walked past a guard and did not say anything, picked up a phone, then put it down and walked out.
- Gonsalves claims that a Northeastern student helped her, but no one knows who this person is and the police never bothered to find them.
- A Boston Police officer got there around 4:30 – 5 AM and took a report. The Officer reported not seeing any marks on Gonsalves in the places she said Henriquez hit her.
- This same Boston Police officer said that Gonsalves was distraught, so he told her to call him later with rest of the story. He spoke to Gonsalves again around 6:30 AM. However, in court, records show that the officer submitted his police report at 5:46 AM.
- Later that morning, at around 9/10 AM, two Boston Police detectives came to Gonsalves’ house in Somerville to interview her. Detectives recorded audio of the interview. Gonsalves is hesitating a lot in the story and at one point starts giggling.
- Boston Police detectives realized they didn’t have batteries in their camera, left to go to East Boston (from Somerville) to get another one.
- By the time they Boston Police detectives got back, Gonsalves was showing them text messages between her and Henriquez. When Gonsalves was asked on the stand how she was able to do that if Henriquez took her SIM card, Gonsalves said she left while the detectives were gone to buy a new one. However, Gonsalves said she could not recall the store.
- Detectives did report seeing marks on Gonsalves body and took pictures of them. When detectives asked why she had marks then, Gonsalves said they just took a while to show up.
- The next day, an Arlington police officer visited her house. Gonsalves told this officer a different story, claiming that Henriquez held her hostage for two hours in the car. Gonsalves later had to change that story because it didn’t add up with the time line of events. Henriquez picked up the Zipcar and it was back in its parking space in approximately a 2 hour time span.
- Gonsalves also showed the Arlington officer her cell phone without a SIM card in it, saying that Carlos had stole it. When asked on the stand why Gonsalves did that if she had bought a new SIM card the day before, Gonsalves said she couldn’t recall the order that things happened. Gonsalves also testified that she did not recall this Arlington officer coming to her house.
- While the Arlington officer was on the stand, new evidence came up that there was a meeting between the officer, a different Assistant DA (the DA who prosecuted the case at trial is the third one who has been passed this case), Gonsalves, Gonsalves’ mother, and a victim advocate to discuss what charges should be brought against Henriquez. There was no record of this meeting and no notes were given to the defense. Henriquez’s attorney moved to have the trial dismissed based off of the withholding of this new information, but the judge would not allow it and in addition, allowed the meeting to be entered into evidence. Exculpatory evidence was not turned over despite a pre-trial motion filed by Attorney Soriano-Mills and allowed by a judge. The evidence of this report came to light while the “lead” investigator was testifying. The trial was suspended for 2 days to find out how this occurred. This was done outside of the presence of the jury. It was discovered that the notes about this meeting were ultimately found in the DA’s file who was prosecuting Henriquez. The judge sanctioned the Commonwealth and found they violated Rule 14 of the MA rules of evidence. However, the judge would not dismiss the case.
- Detective Bassett of Arlington testified that the Commonwealth didn’t ask that certain discovery be brought to court because “they didn’t need it”. One piece of evidence was the condom wrapper found in the vehicle. The Detective was told to retrieve this evidence after Henriquez’s attorney demanded it be brought.
- When Gonsalves was on the stand, she only became emotional one time when she admitted that about 5 months after all of this, in December, she showed up uninvited at Henriquez’s house in an attempt to see him. Gonsalves testified that she was feeling bad that it had went this far. Gonsalves testified that she was drinking and taking ambien that night and said she couldn’t believe how “ugly it had all became” and that she still respected Carlos. Henriquez did not come outside but his brother who resides with him came out and testified on the stand that Gonsalves was yelling “he better come outside if he wants this to go away.” This incident happened the night before pre-trial motions in the case were scheduled to start.
- Henriquez called a Boston Police officer that he knew and the officer sent a patrol car to scare Gonsalves off. That officer also testified. Since there was a restraining order in effect Henriquez wanted to protect himself and document Gonsalves’ unwanted visit.
- Phone records also showed that Gonsalves called him from a blocked number numerous times that day.
- Gonsalves herself was charged separately with harassing phone calls after a clerk magistrate found probable cause, this hearing was attended by Henriquez & Attorney as well as Gonsalves & Attorney. The charges were issued against Gonsalves and Henriquez came on the day of that trial to testify. The Commonwealth asked for another date to subpoena Gonsalves’ phone records which the judge did not allow. The state could have went forward because Carlos was there along with his witnesses. The Commonwealth chose to let the case get dismissed and have yet to take the charges back out of Suffolk County.
- A private investigator found that Gonsalves also had a fake Facebook page under an alias where she followed a few other local politicians. Gonsalves said it was just something she and her friends did for fun.
- Each officer who testified admitted that they had not spoken to any of the previous officers who took reports. When asked why, one officer stated “because she had already named her attacker.”
- The Arlington police officer said that he “drove by” the area where Gonsalves said the incident took place. However, the officer admitted that he did not get out of the cruiser, did not question any neighbors, did not question the mother or anyone else at the party and did not check to see if anyone made any 911 calls.
- The Boston Police detectives stated they went back near Northeastern University and found one of Gonsalves’ flip flops (she said it fell off when she jumped out of Henriquez’s vehicle). Boston Police detectives never checked to see if the flip-flop they found matched Gonsalves’ other one and detectives also never gave the flip-flop as evidence to the investigating officer in Arlington. Henriquez’s attorney asked where the flip-flop was and one of the detectives stated it was probably still in BPD evidence storage and that it was her “mistake” for not entering it.
- Gonsalves hired a civil lawyer within a week or less of all of this happening and conducted a highly publicized press conference a few days later. If you view the video there are no marks on Gonsalves, her attitude can be described as nonchalant or smug, and Gonsalves’ mother claimed during this press conference that her daughter had been scared of Henriquez. However, the mother never testified at trial.
Gonsalves provided a total of 7 different stories since this incident. Gonsalves gave 5 different accounts to detectives who were investigating the case, another account to the Assistant DA who ultimately decided not to indict and then yet another account of events at trial. All the accounts are different in terms of timing, what was done and various specifics. The entire incident took place over a period of approximately 45 minutes. It’s Gonsalves’ story and her story alone. All of the investigators simply took Gonsalves’ account and ran with it. Investigators did zero follow up and failed to conduct a thorough investigation.
- Cambridge District Court Judge Michele Hogan changed the jury instructions in the middle of jury deliberation. The assault charges were broken up as follows: 1 count of assault to the face, 1 count of assault by holding down and choking, 1 count of assault to the chest, 1 count of larceny (cell phone), 1 count of intimidation (locked in car). Henriquez was ultimately found guilty on the choking and chest. Tuesday afternoon, the judge told the jury that in order to find him guilty on a charge, they had to believe it all happened. On Wednesday morning, the 2nd day of deliberations, the judge changed the instructions and verdict slip saying she “had done some further review” that night. She changed the slip which initially said A&B throat to A&B throat OR A&B (holding down). They came back an hour later with a conviction on holding down.
- Out of 5 things Henriquez was charged with, the jury did not believe that 3 things happened but that 2 did in the same incident. Wouldn’t reasonable doubt on those three things cast reasonable doubt on the other 2? The jury got it wrong on this verdict. The evidence was not there, the testimonies of the officers involved present more questions than they answer and Gonsalves at the center of it all, is simply not credible. Henriquez was found not guilty of one of the A&B counts (back hand) and not guilty of the felony intimidation of a witness (taking the cell phone) and not guilty of larceny (stealing the SIM card). Henriquez was convicted of 2 misdemeanor A&Bs which were a punch in the chest and holding her down (the jury did not find he put his hands on her throat).
- The judge’s sentence was unmerited in this case. Henriquez has no previous criminal record and was found guilty of 2 misdemeanor assault charges. The judge stated that Henriquez did not “seem remorseful enough” because he didn’t want to apologize after he was convicted, despite the fact that Henriquez had maintained his innocence since the incident. The judge admonished Henriquez from the bench even stating “When a woman tells you she doesn’t want to have sex, that means she does not want to have sex,” Hogan said. “You don’t hit her. You don’t punch her. . . . I’m very concerned that you’re not remorseful.”
- Finally, adding insult to injury, rather than scheduling a sentencing hearing, the judge ordered to immediately take Henriquez in custody to begin 6 months on a 2.5 year suspended sentence and court officers took Henriquez out in handcuffs. Misdemeanor charges of this nature rarely if ever earn defendants, particularly those with no prior criminal record, 6 months in jail.