×

Former UMass student sentenced to 1 year in overdose death

  • Former UMass graduate student Jesse Carrillo is shown June 1, 2017 during his sentencing at Hampshire Superior Court in Northampton. He was found guilty on charges of involuntary manslaughter and distributing heroin following the 2013 overdose death of Eric Sinacori. Carrillo was sentenced to serve one year in the Hampshire County Jail and House of Correction, as well as five years of probation. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Former University of Massachusetts Amherst student Jesse Carrillo of Derry, New Hampshire, talks to his lawyer, Attorney J.W. Carney Jr. of Boston after the guilty verdict was announced in Superior Court in Northampton on Wednesday, May 30th, 2017. Carrillo was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and distributing heroin in the 2013 death of UMass junior Eric Sinacori.

  • Francesca Sinacori cries while reading a victim impact statement June 1, 2017, during the sentencing of former UMass graduate student Jesse Carrillo at Hampshire Superior Court in Northampton. Carrillo was found guilty on charges of involuntary manslaughter and distributing heroin following the 2013 overdose death of Eric Sinacori, Francesca's son. Carrillo was sentenced to serve one year in the Hampshire County Jail and House of Correction, as well as five years of probation. GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Former UMass graduate student Jesse Carrillo is shown June 1, 2017 during his sentencing at Hampshire Superior Court in Northampton. He was found guilty on charges of involuntary manslaughter and distributing heroin following the 2013 overdose death of Eric Sinacori. Carrillo was sentenced to serve one year in the Hampshire County Jail and House of Correction, as well as five years of probation. His defense attorney J.W. Carney Jr., of Boston, is shown, at right. GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Michael Doepker reads a victim impact statement June 1, 2017 during the sentencing of former UMass graduate student Jesse Carrillo at Hampshire Superior Court in Northampton. Carrillo was found guilty on charges of involuntary manslaughter and distributing heroin following the 2013 overdose death of Eric Sinacori, the son of Doepker's partner. Carrillo was sentenced to serve one year in the Hampshire County Jail and House of Correction, as well as five years of probation. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Eric Spofford, founder & CEO of The Granite House in New Hampshire, speaks June 1, 2017 on behalf of former UMass graduate student Jesse Carrillo during Carrillo's sentencing at Hampshire Superior Court in Northampton. Carrillo was found guilty on charges of involuntary manslaughter and distributing heroin following the 2013 overdose death of Eric Sinacori. He was sentenced to serve one year in the Hampshire County Jail and House of Correction, as well as five years of probation. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • J.W. Carney Jr., the defense attorney for former UMass graduate student Jesse Carrillo, speaks June 1, 2017 during Carrillo's sentencing at Hampshire Superior Court in Northampton. He was found guilty on charges of involuntary manslaughter and distributing heroin following the 2013 overdose death of Eric Sinacori. Carrillo was sentenced to serve one year in the Hampshire County Jail and House of Correction, as well as five years of probation. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Judge John Agostini speaks June 1, 2017 during the sentencing of former UMass graduate student Jesse Carrillo at Hampshire Superior Court in Northampton. Carrillo was found guilty on charges of involuntary manslaughter and distributing heroin following the 2013 overdose death of Eric Sinacori. Carrillo was sentenced to serve one year in the Hampshire County Jail and House of Correction, as well as five years of probation. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Former UMass graduate student Jesse Carrillo is shown June 1, 2017 during his sentencing at Hampshire Superior Court in Northampton. He was found guilty on charges of involuntary manslaughter and distributing heroin following the 2013 overdose death of Eric Sinacori. Carrillo was sentenced to serve one year in the Hampshire County Jail and House of Correction, as well as five years of probation. His defense attorney J.W. Carney Jr., of Boston, is shown, at right. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Former UMass graduate student Jesse Carrillo, center, is shown June 1, 2017 during his sentencing at Hampshire Superior Court in Northampton. He was found guilty on charges of involuntary manslaughter and distributing heroin following the 2013 overdose death of Eric Sinacori. Carrillo was sentenced to serve one year in the Hampshire County Jail and House of Correction, as well as five years of probation. His defense attorney J.W. Carney Jr., of Boston, is shown, second from right. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • JESSE CARRILLO JESSE CARRILLO

  • Francesca Sinacori speaks during a press conference Thursday following the sentencing of Jesse Carrillo at Hampshire Superior Court in Northampton. Carrillo was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the 2013 heroin overdose death of Sinacori’s son, Eric Sinacori. GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • J.W. Carney Jr., the defense attorney for former UMass graduate student Jesse Carrillo, speaks to the media during a press conference June 1, 2017 following the sentencing of Carrillo at Hampshire Superior Court in Northampton. He was found guilty on charges of involuntary manslaughter and distributing heroin following the 2013 overdose death of Eric Sinacori. Carrillo was sentenced to serve one year in the Hampshire County Jail and House of Correction, as well as five years of probation. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Francesca Sinacori speaks to the media during a press conference June 1, 2017 following the sentencing of former UMass graduate student Jesse Carrillo at Hampshire Superior Court in Northampton. Carrillo was found guilty on charges of involuntary manslaughter and distributing heroin following the 2013 overdose death of Eric Sinacori, Francesca's son. Carrillo was sentenced to serve one year in the Hampshire County Jail and House of Correction, as well as five years of probation. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY



@ecutts_HG
Wednesday, June 07, 2017

NORTHAMPTON — Shortly before a judge sentenced a former University of Massachusetts graduate student to serve a year in jail for his role in the overdose death of a fellow student, the dead man’s mother asked the judge to send a message.

Francesca Sinacori told a Hampshire Superior Court judge June 1 that the loss of her son Eric Sinacori left her with an emptiness that will haunt her for the rest of her life.

“I pray that your honor sets this precedent to show dealers that they will be held accountable for their recklessness with other people’s lives,” Francesca Sinacori said.

Eric Sinacori, 20, of Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, was found dead by his father in his apartment at Puffton Village in Amherst on Oct. 4, 2013. He was a third-year kinesiology major at UMass.

Jesse Carrillo was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and distributing heroin. He was sentenced to 2½ years in the Hampshire County Jail and House of Correction. Only one year of the incarceration sentence must be served while the remaining year and a half will be stayed on the drug distribution charge if he complies with the terms of his probation, Judge John Agostini ruled.

Carrillo was also sentenced to five years probation on the involuntary manslaughter charge, to be served concurrently with five years probation on the distribution charge.

During the sentencing hearing, Francesca Sinacori recalled the last conversation she had with her son, just an hour before his death.

“He told me he was cleaning his apartment for me so I could stay over for family weekend. He told me he missed us a lot and he couldn’t wait to see us for family weekend,” Sinacori said, crying.

She said her son asked her to make a tray of lasagna, a dish she had already been planning to bring as a surprise. But, she recalled, “The preparation and the cooking took a lot longer than I thought it would.

“I got a late start to see him for family weekend,” she said. “I was still three hours away when I found out he was dead.

“All I can remember was screaming, punching the dashboard, hitting the accelerator. I don’t know how I made it up here. All I wanted to do was die,” Sinacori continued. “I begged the coroner to wait for me to get there because I wanted to give him one last hug and tell him everything was going to be OK. I knew for me it wasn’t going to be OK because he was my life, my air, my world.”

In arguing for the jail sentence, Assistant Northwestern District Attorney Jeremy Bucci referred to evidence not included in the trial, that Carrillo had dealt drugs before and after Sinacori’s death.

“To suggest and try to separate himself from what drug distributors look like would be to undermine everything we know about the opioid epidemic,” Bucci said, referring to the argument raised by the defense that Carrillo was simply an addict helping another addict. “The crimes he has been convicted of are not symptomatic of drug addiction.

“He wasn’t gaining financially, he wasn’t supporting his own habit, he was dealing drugs because he wanted to,” Bucci said.

Defense attorney J.W. Carney Jr. argued for no jail time. Instead, he recommended a period of house arrest, GPS monitoring or curfew, as well as five years probation.

“I submit that this is a very rare case that it is a bigger danger to the community taking Jesse off the street and putting him in prison than would be leaving him in essence on the street to continue doing his work,” Carney said.

“I’m not asking that Jesse not be punished but I’m asking that the court come up with a creative disposition that fits the unique facts and the unique individual before the court. One that both allows him to help all of these drug addicts … plus some punishment by the conditions he will be under while on probation.”

Carrillo currently works as a house manager in a sober house and an admissions counselor for Granite House, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program in New Hampshire.

Carney has filed an appeal of the jury’s verdict citing two aspects: the judge’s refusal to give the jury an option of joint personal use of heroin by both men, and questioning whether there was sufficient evidence to support a conviction of manslaughter. Because of the appeal, the judge granted a two-week stay of the sentence, meaning Carrillo will not have to report to jail any sooner than June 16.

Speaking on Carrillo’s behalf, Eric Spofford detailed the work Carrillo has done for Granite House, which Spofford founded.

“In all the time I’ve known him since he has first arrived, he has done very well and helped a lot of people,” Spofford said.

Carrillo has been sober for 30 months, according to Carney.

One person who said Carrillo has helped him is Jordan Wilhelm. Wilhelm said he has been at the sober house since July 2016 and said that, before his arrival, many people had given up on him.

“When I got there, I was really stubborn, I didn’t really have a lot of confidence in myself. He helped walk me through a lot of things,” Wilhelm said of Carrillo. “He is a role model for me. He helped me walk through a lot of fears.”

During the sentencing hearing, Agostini said he received 21 statements in support of Carrillo as well as numerous victim impact statements from Sinacori’s family and friends.

“The important facts are that I don’t perceive that Jesse was a drug dealer … I see that as one addict from another, helping each other out in a perverted sense,” Agostini said. “On the other hand, this is manslaughter. We have a death here, a death that should not have occurred. It is manslaughter and there are punishments that go along with the severity of the crime.”

A parent himself, Agostini said he felt for the parents and families of both men.

“I’ve seen it simply too many times,” Agostini said. “It’s the parents that suffer more than anything. It’s the families that go through hell. I also realize, that anything I do and anything I say will provide no comfort or solace to anyone. It’s almost a zero-sum game.”

Emily Cutts can be reached at ecutts@gazettenet.com.