Based on DNA testing and blood-spattered clothing, Bristol County prosecutors today charged a 20-year-old Fall River man with the execution-style murder of a 31-year-old Fall River woman — who was robbed of $6 in cash, some heroin, and her cellphone after the killing.
Bristol District Attorney C. Samuel Sutter identified the alleged shooter as Brandyn LePage, a Fall River man who was quickly identified as a potential suspect in the Sept. 29 shooting and has been in custody since Oct. 2 on possession of illegal firearms and obstruction of justice charges.
LePage is accused of shooting Aja Pasqual around 1:25 p.m. as she sat in her maroon Nissan Versa in the 800 block of Cherry Street in the Southeastern Massachusetts city. She was shot once in the head and was found slumped against the broken driver’s-side window of the car with its engine running and the radio on.
“It appears as if it was a drug transaction,’’ Sutter said.
Sutter said LePage allegedly robbed Pasqual — whom he had allegedly met for a drug deal — after he murdered her.
Sutter said Fall River and State Police tracked down phone records shortly after the woman was killed and discovered that LePage had made numerous calls to Pasqual just before she was slain.
Based on interviews with people familiar with LePage, police also searched a number of residences and locations where they believed LePage had been living, or staying, in the hours and and days after the shocking daytime murder.
At one place in Fall River, police recovered a .38-caliber handgun with one round fired from the chamber and some blood-spattered clothing, Sutter said.
Prosecutors said the gun was allegedly used to kill Pasqual, but ballistics tests could not directly tie the gun to the slaying because the recovered bullet was damaged during the killing. But Sutter said DNA testing linked LePage to the gun and forensic tests showed that the blood found on LePage’s clothing belonged to Pasqual, he said.
LePage was questioned by detectives after the gun was recovered. He allegedly lied to them and was arrested for gun possession and obstruction of justice, Sutter said.
LePage pleaded not guilty to all charges, but has been held on $50,000 cash bail, giving investigators more time to interview acquaintances and dig deeper into LePage’s movements and to await the results of forensic tests.
Sutter said LePage is to be arraigned Dec. 6 in Fall River District Court on murder and armed robbery charges.
Sutter said the charges against LePage mean his office has solved all four of the murders committed in Bristol County so far this year.