Judge Sends Haverhill Man to Prison for 2013 Winter St. Beating

Essex County District Attorney Jonathan W. Blodgett.

District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett.

A 23-year old Haverhill man was sentenced Tuesday to 19.5 to 25 years in prison after a jury found him guilty of brutally beating another man on a Haverhill street in 2013.

Rodney McCray was convicted of assault and battery causing serious bodily injury, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and assault and battery in Salem Superior Court following a five-day trial. The jury returned a not guilty verdict on a witness intimidation charge.

“This was a brazen, random and horrific attack perpetrated on an innocent man,” District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett said. “While nothing can restore what was taken from the victim that day, this severity of this sentence reflects appalling and depraved nature of this crime.”

Judge Timothy Feeley imposed the sentence followed by three years of probation during which time McCray must attend anger management classes and stay away from and have no contact with the victim.

Essex Assistant District Attorney Jessica Strasnick introduced evidence that proved McCray attacked Jesse Downs, a 31-year old landscaper, Aug 30, 2013, at 2:30 in the afternoon, while he was walking on Winter Street in Haverhill.  McCray and another man, Roberto Hilerio, 22, began punching and kicking the victim after he walked past them. They continued beating him despite his efforts to protect himself and finally, McCray picked the victim up and slammed his head first into the pavement. The men then continued to kick him as he lay in the road, according to Strasnick.

Strasnick told the jury, “this was not a fight. This was a vicious, unprovoked attack on an unsuspecting victim.”  The victim suffered massive head injuries, has had multiple brain surgeries and is confined to a wheelchair.  He cannot use his right arm and relies on a feeding tube to eat.

Hilerio pleaded guilty to his role in the attack last July 29, and was sentenced to 10 to 12 years in prison.

Essex Assistant District Attorney James Gubitose second seated Strasnick, and Essex Victim Witness Advocate Jennifer Capone provided support to the victim. Strasnick praised the work of Haverhill Police Officers Meaghan Buckley and Bryan Bailey and Massachusetts State Police Trooper Brian O’Neill.

McCray was represented by Attorneys John and Nicholas Morris.

One thought on “Judge Sends Haverhill Man to Prison for 2013 Winter St. Beating

  1. Good for the judge! Perhaps this sentence will drive home to those who break the law and hurt other people, the fact that there are life altering consequences for those people who prey on law abiding citizens. Lock ’em up so people will be safe on the streets!!!