Roslindale man sentenced to life in prison in September 2011 slaying in South Boston

A 19-year-old Roslindale man was sentenced today to life in prison for the September 2011 slaying of a man in the South End, prosecutors said.

Ricardo Arias was convicted of first-degree murder and unlawful possession of a firearm in the slaying of Alex Sierra, 18, of the South End, the Suffolk district attorney’s office said in a statement.

Sierra’s mother, whose name is not being released, fondly remembered him in a victim impact statement as a smart and kind young man.

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“We all knew Alex was truly talented, with plans to move far beyond a college education,” the mother said, according to the statement from the district attorney’s office.

She also said Sierra loved Christmas not just to receive, but to give gifts.

“It was a blessing for me to see just how much time he had put into picking out gifts that fit each of our needs,” she said. “Sadly, the Christmas season is no longer what it used to be.”

Massachusetts law calls for first-degree murder convicts to serve life without parole. But a US Supreme Court decision last year declared it unconstitutional to sentence defendants under age 18 to life in prison without parole. Arias was 17 at the time of the slaying.

Suffolk Superior Court Judge Linda Giles sentenced Arias to life in prison. She said she would leave the decision on his parole eligibility to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, which is expected to rule soon and reconcile the US Supreme Court decision with Massachusetts law, the prosecutors’ statement said.

Arias was also sentenced to an additional three to five years for his gun conviction, the statement said.

On Sept. 3, 2011, Arias and Antonio Saez, 18, approached the Villa Victoria housing development in the South End. Arias and Saez were members of a Mission Hill gang, rivals of a gang associated with the Villa Victoria development. Sierra was involved with neither, the statement said.

When Arias and Saez approached Sierra they asked him if he was “from the Villa.” Upon answering yes, Arias shot him multiple times with a handgun, which he discarded in a dumpster after fleeing the scene, the statement said.

Sierra was pronounced dead at Boston Medical Center, the statement said.

Saez pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of a firearm and received 22 months in a house of correction, the statement said.