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Jury finds UMass graduate student guilty in overdose death of Eric Sinacori

  • Former University of Massachusetts Amherst student Jesse Carrillo of Derry, New Hampshire, listens to opening statements for his trial in Hampshire Superior in Northampton on Wednesday, May 24, 2017. A jury found Carrillo guilty of involuntary manslaughter and distributing heroin in the 2013 death of UMass junior Eric Sinacori.

  • Comforted by her family, Jesse Carrillo’s mother, Deborah Sarfaty, cries as the two guilty verdicts are read in Hampshire Superior Court, Tuesday morning. GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Former University of Massachusetts Amherst student Jesse Carrillo of Derry, New Hampshire,after the guilty verdict was announced in Superior Court in Northampton on Wednesday, May 30th, 2017. Carrillo is charged with involuntary manslaughter and distributing heroin in the 2013 death of UMass junior Eric Sinacori. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Jesse Carrillo, left, talks to his lawyer, J.W. Carney Jr. of Boston, after the guilty verdicts were announced in Superior Court in Northampton, Tuesday. GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Francesca Sinacori, mother of Eric Sinacori, and her partner, Michael Doepker, listen as guilty verdicts are read in Hampshire Superior Court, Tuesday morning, in the manslaughter trial of Jesse Carrillo. The jury convicted Carillo in Eric Sinacori’s 2013 overdose death.



@ecutts_HG
Thursday, June 01, 2017

NORTHAMPTON — A jury has found a former University of Massachusetts graduate student guilty of manslaughter in the overdose death of a fellow student.

Jesse Carrillo, 28, of Derry, New Hampshire, was found guilty Tuesday morning in Hampshire Superior Court of involuntary manslaughter and distributing heroin in the death of Eric L. Sinacori.

“I know this is not going to bring my son back but I don’t want to have him to have died in vain,” Sinacori’s mother, Francesca Sinacori, said following the verdict. “Jesse didn’t just take the ‘I love yous’ and the hugs, Jesse took my grandchildren … all that Eric should have been.”

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.

After deliberating for more than two hours Tuesday morning, the 12-member jury sent a note to Judge John Agostini informing him they had reached a verdict.

As the first guilty verdict was read, Carrillo’s mother, Deborah Sarfaty, began to cry. As the second guilty verdict was read, Sinacori’s mother began to cry.

“Jesse’s family is devastated by the verdict,” defense attorney J.W. Carney Jr. said Tuesday afternoon.

“Personally, I’m heartbroken by the verdict. The Jesse Carrillo I’ve known is a person who has dedicated his life to helping people overcome being addicted to heroin,” Carney said. “There are dozens of individuals who believe that Jesse saved their lives, literally, by helping them end their addiction to heroin before it killed them.”

During the three-day trial, Carrillo took the stand in his own defense, detailing his own heroin addiction. An addiction specialist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston also took the stand as a witness for the defense. Various police officers and officials involved in the case took the stand on behalf of the prosecution.

Sending a message

Outside the courthouse, Francesca Sinacori spoke of her only son as her life, her prodigy and the air she breathed.

“I fought to have this happen because he was never charged,” she said, referring to the two years that passed before charges were brought against Carrillo. “Like Jesse said on the stand, it wasn’t going to bring him back, and he’s right.”

Eric Sinacori’s death came 10 months after he became a confidential informant for a now-defunct program with the UMass Police Department. The confidential informant program ended in January 2015 following news reports and a university review.

With the conviction, Francesca Sinacori said she wanted to make sure it didn’t happen to anyone else’s child and that it would send a message to anyone dealing drugs.

“This is a message to all the dealers out there that you will be held accountable,” Sinacori said. “Hopefully, it will make them choose a different career path.”

She said she was grateful for Assistant District Attorney Jeremy Bucci’s work as well as the jury for “making sure justice was served.”

In Eric’s memory, the family has set up a memorial fund that gives out scholarships to students at his alma mater, UMass kinesiology upperclassmen and students unable to afford organized sports.

The jury deliberated for approximately seven hours between Friday and Tuesday. Carrillo is expected to be sentenced Thursday morning.

Carney said he expected to file a notice of appeal on Thursday.

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