Man convicted of murder in '90 case

Richardson faces up to life in prison without parole

JOHN TLUMACKI/GLOBE STAFFSergio Roman wept as he was hugged by his uncle, Isaias Roman, after a man was convicted of killing Sergio's mother, Noemi. JOHN TLUMACKI/GLOBE STAFFSergio Roman wept as he was hugged by his uncle, Isaias Roman, after a man was convicted of killing Sergio's mother, Noemi. (JOHN TLUMACKI/GLOBE STAFF)
By Brian R. Ballou
Globe Staff / April 4, 2009
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Sergio Roman was just a toddler when authorities found him inside a Fenway apartment almost two decades ago, clinging to his mother's bloody and lifeless body. Yesterday, he hugged elated relatives in a Suffolk County courtroom after a jury convicted a man of the slaying.

The first-degree murder conviction of Kurvin Richardson, 38, drew a burst of emotion from the packed courtroom. As Roman hugged his uncle, Isaias Roman, several of Richardson's relatives stormed out of the courtroom, with one unidentified man burying his face in his hands as he cried out loud.

Richardson faces sentencing on Monday. The verdict capped a case that had been shelved for almost 15 years due to lack of evidence. The family of 18-year-old Noemi Roman had all but lost hope that her killer would ever be brought to justice. Yesterday brought them a sense of closure.

"I was 22 at the time that my sister was murdered, and I never got to mourn her properly," said Norma Alvira. "Now I can let her go, let her be at peace, instead of carrying this heavy weight around."

Sergio Roman, standing next to about a dozen relatives and friends outside the courtroom, said with a slight smile on his face, "I feel kind of relieved. I'm stunned and relieved at the same time."

Now 20, he said his mother's brutal death has weighed heavily on him for as long as he can remember.

"It was very satisfying for the victim's family, who have waited so terribly long for justice," Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said after the verdict. "The enormous sense of relief from them was palpable. You can't help but feel for the son's pain. It has taken a tremendous toll on his life, on his formative years."

Richardson faces life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The case against Richardson hinged on DNA evidence, fingernail clippings from the victim that had been saved by investigators after her death on May 31, 1990. In 2005, a new team of investigators decided to take another look at the evidence and found that tissue recovered from underneath the fingernails matched Richardson's DNA.

Steven J. Sack, the Boston lawyer defending Richardson, said, "We respectfully disagree with the jury's verdict and will file an appeal."

During the trial, he said that authorities never definitively determined that the DNA belonged to his client, only that Richardson, 38, could not be excluded as the source. He said further that the police had several other suspects, including Sergio Roman's father, who had threatened Noemi Roman, causing her to obtain a restraining order against him.

Before his arraignment in 2005, Richardson worked as a Boston elementary school aide and counselor to social service agencies. Assistant District Attorney Holly Broadbent told the jury that Richardson got acquainted with Noemi Roman through her younger sister, Zenaida, who was 15 at the time. Noemi Roman, a single mother who worked part time at a department store and was studying to become a paralegal, sometimes let Zenaida spend the night at her apartment on Peterborough Street and also let her invite Richardson to visit.

Alvira told the Globe last month that Richardson had flirted with Zenaida and that Noemi Roman did not think the two were a good fit and urged Zenaida to stop seeing Richardson. Alvira said she believes a fight over the relationship precipitated her sister's killing.

Noemi Roman was beaten and stabbed in the throat, and the killer placed three aerosol cans in her stove and turned it up as high as it would go, according to prosecutors. Boston firefighters, responding to investigate the smell of smoke, broke down the door of the apartment and found the mother dead, with Sergio sitting next to her.