A Suffolk Superior Court jury today convicted Charlie Brea, 32, of South Boston, of first-degree murder for the death of Luis Montanez, who simply had the bad luck to be standing outside the old Breezeway bar on Blue Hill Avenue in Roxbury when a fistfight erupted.
Suffolk County prosecutors told the jury that some of the combatants included Brea's pals, so he took out a gun and opened fire shortly before closing time outside the 153 Blue Hill Ave. bar on Oct. 23, 2010. Montanez was not involved at all in the fight and knew none of the people involved, prosecutors say - he had just arrived at the bar with a couple of friends - but he died when one of Brea's bullets hit him in the head. Brea also hit another man, who survived.
The verdict means a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole, although Brea will not be formally sentenced until Tuesday. The verdict also means he gets an automatic review by the Supreme Judicial Court.
According to the Suffolk County District Attorney's office:
Montanez, a resident of the South End, arrived at the Breezeway with two friends at about 1:46 am and smoked a cigarette outside - ending up on the outskirts of a fistfight that erupted among members of Brea’s group and another group. Montanez was not a combatant in that fight, and none of those involved used or displayed a weapon.
Through witness testimony, video footage, and other evidence, King proved that Brea drew a .22 caliber semiautomatic handgun and fired it at least three times into the group of people fighting. Montanez was struck in the head, suffering injuries that claimed his life at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
Brea fled the country shortly after the homicide, traveling to the Dominican Republic. He remained there until last year, when he was apprehended and extradited to the US through the efforts of the Boston Police Fugitive Unit and US Marshals Service.
The Breezeway, whose owner shut it and sold its liquor license to a Back Bay Brazilian place in 2012, seemed to attract trouble, especially at closing time. Several months before the murder, the Boston Licensing Board ordered it shut for two weeks because of a closing-time brawl.