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A SPECIAL SECTION: Haiti, Since the January 12, 2010 Fierce Earthquake

Posted Thursday, September 9, 2010  

Friend of 3 suspects in slaying laments: 'I just didn't know'
By Brian R. Baillou,
Globe Staff
The trio of friends charged with murdering 58-year-old pizza deliveryman Richel Nova in Hyde Park showed up at a friend’s house minutes after the crime, toting a pizza and claiming they had gotten into a fight with a drunk who had groped one of them, according to the friend, who allowed them to stay briefly at her house.
video Aline Valery teared up as she spoke yesterday outside of her home
“I didn’t believe that story, because it just didn’t seem right with all the blood on their clothes and hands,’’ said Aline Valery, 19, a senior at Hyde Park High School. “I didn’t know what they really did until two days later.’’

Valery’s account of the unusual visit by her friends, along with footage from a surveillance video taken from an auto repair shop located next to the house where Nova was killed on Sept. 2, traces the path that Yamiley Mathurin, 17, Alexander Gallett, 18, and Michel St. Jean, 20, allegedly took leading up to the homicide and eventually their arrests on charges of murder.

Valery said she had been watching television at home at about 2 a.m. on Sept. 2, when the lights, connected to a motion sensor, came on in front of the house on Adams Street in Hyde Park. Valery said she then heard a familiar voice, that of her best friend Mathurin, repeating, “He’s bleeding!’’

Valery said she looked through a window and saw Gallett trying to enter the house through another window. “He was actually trying to go through the window so we wouldn’t see everything,’’ Valery said.

Gallett, who often stayed at Valery’s home because he had no place else to go, was wearing shorts and a blood-soaked shirt, she said. St. Jean, 20, was standing with Mathurin near the front door, his knuckles bleeding. Valery’s mother, Juile Theodore, arrived at the door first, startled by the injury, blood, and the strange predawn visit.

Gallett, Mathurin, and St. Jean told Valery and her mother that they were walking on Hyde Park Avenue when a drunk man groped Mathurin. St. Jean and Gallett said they beat the man up and that is where the blood and hand injury came from.

Valery said she responded, “You guys are lying to me, so when you want to tell me the truth, I’ll be upstairs. I’m going to sleep now.’’

As Valery retreated to her bedroom, St. Jean went into a bathroom to wash his bloody hand. The guests had offered Valery pizza, but she refused and they put the box in the refrigerator. Valery said she did not eat then because it was too late, but in the morning, she had several slices, not knowing how her friends came in possession of the food.

Gallett took a shower and changed his clothes. He had kept several bags of clothes inside the house since February. Valery said she had persuaded her mother back then to take Gallett into their home. Gallett slept over and 30 minutes after they had arrived, Mathurin and St. Jean were picked up by a friend.

Over the next two days, Gallett mostly stayed at Valery’s house. Mathurin dropped by on Friday, and offered to pay for food. Valery suggested pizza. They called Domino’s in Hyde Park, the same restaurant where Nova had worked. But after hearing the total cost, Mathurin and Gallett decided to walk a few blocks to a cheaper pizza restaurant nearby. They left and came back with pizza and fried chicken, paid for by Mathurin.

After they ate, Gallett took Mathurin to the bus stop. Police arrested the two moments later.

On Saturday morning, a detective visited Valery’s house and told her mother what had happened. Theodore later told her daughter what her friends were accused of.

The surveillance video was turned over to Boston police and provided key evidence in the case, police said. Ralph Sellitto, the owner of Hyde Park Auto Electric, said police called him to his shop about an hour after the slaying and he reviewed the surveillance tape with officers.

The video shows two young men and a woman, allegedly the suspects, getting off an MBTA bus on Hyde Park Avenue around 8 p.m. on Sept. 1 and walking up the driveway leading to a rear entrance to the vacant house at 742 Hyde Park Ave., according to Sellitto.

Sometime after 11 p.m., the video shows Nova parking his Subaru Legacy outside and walking up to the house with a pizza box. The woman met him in the driveway, then led him toward the rear of the building, where a stairway leads to the second-floor apartment, Sellitto said.

“It’s like watching a horror movie — you know what’s going to happen,’’ said Sellitto. “You wanted to scream at the monitor, ‘Don’t go up there!’ ’’ Around midnight, Sellitto said, one of the men, dressed in white, emerged from the rear of the house and was caught on video “walking down the driveway [toward the street] like nothing happened, nonchalantly.’’

Seconds later, the woman, carrying a pizza box in one hand and a brown paper bag in the other, can be seen walking quickly down the driveway along with the second man, “like they were on a mission to get out of there,’’ Sellitto said. The trio got into Nova’s car and sped off, he said.

Later that morning, St. Jean, Gallett, and Mathurin showed up at Adams Street. Valery said she feels betrayed and bewildered by her former friends.

“They never did anything violent before, so I just don’t understand how in the world they could do what the police said they did. Now, people are looking at me as a bad person because they came over to my house after, but I didn’t know. . . . I just didn’t know.’’

Brian R. Ballou can be reached at bballou@globe.com.

© Copyright 2010 Globe Newspaper Company. Reprinted from The Boston Globe of Thursday, September 9, 2010.
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