The following is a press release from Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone:
A Revere man pleaded guilty today to a charge of manslaughter in connection with the death of Joseph Ronan, 22, of Reading, Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone informed the public today.
John Burke, 26, of Revere, pleaded guilty in Middlesex Superior Court to charges of manslaughter and illegal possession of a firearm. Woburn Superior Court Judge S. Jane Haggerty sentenced the defendant to 18-20 years in prison on the manslaughter charge to be followed by 4-5 years in prison on the gun possession charge.
“With this plea, the defendant has taken responsibility for shooting the victim, resulting in his death, over what appears to have been a dispute about money,” District Attorney Leone said. “I commend the Massachusetts State Police assigned to the District Attorney’s Office and the Reading Police for their thorough investigation which brings this case to an end, holds this defendant accountable, and brings the family of the victim some measure of justice today.”
According to authorities, at approximately 1:08 p.m. on Monday, August 15, 2011, Reading Police responded to reports of shots fired at a residence at 3 Lawrence Road in Reading. Upon their arrival, police located Joseph Ronan, 22, evidencing obvious gunshot wounds. The victim was pronounced dead at the scene.
State Police assigned to the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office and Reading Police commenced an immediate investigation into the circumstances of the death. Through that investigation they learned that the defendant arranged to meet the victim under the pretext that he wanted to purchase a Percocet pill. Shortly after the defendant arrived, he shot the victim three times because he believed the victim was involved in a robbery at his Revere apartment in April 2011.
An autopsy was conducted by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (ME), who determined the cause of death to be multiple gunshot wounds and the manner of the death to be homicide.
Burke was arrested in Reading on August 20, 2011 on charges of murder and illegal possession of a firearm. He was arraigned on August 22, 2011 on those charges in Woburn District Court where Judge Timothy Gailey ordered him held without bail. The defendant was indicted by a Middlesex County Grand Jury on November 18, 2011.
The Assistant District Attorney assigned to the case is Elizabeth Dunigan. The Victim Witness Advocate is Danielle DeMeo.