Code of Silence—Not Courts—Frees Gun Suspects; Grand Jury Indicts One More

Haverhill Police survey the scene of a Thursday shooting on Washington Street near Benedetti's Deli. (Jay Saulnier photograph for WHAV News)

Haverhill Police survey the scene of the recent shooting on Washington Street. (Jay Saulnier photograph for WHAV News)

It was an unwritten code of silence, and not the courts, that is responsible for the release of at least three men implicated in Haverhill’s recent spate of often deadly shootings.

Eddy Manuel Almonte was arrested for Nike Colon’s murder during an unrelated motor vehicle stop in Winchester, Va.

Last week’s special investigative report by WHAV revealed ties between the recent shooting death of 20-year-old Nike Colon and shotgun violence at Swasey Field two years ago. The common element—in 2016 and now—was Colon’s accused murderer Eddy Manuel Almonte. He had been charged in 2016 with gun crimes, but later released. WHAV listeners expressed concern that, but for his release, a killing might have been averted. It wasn’t the criminal justice system that failed however, the District Attorney’s office ttold WHAV Friday. Rather, witnesses backed out.

“The witnesses in this case were uncooperative and therefore the case was dismissed,” said Carrie Kimball-Monahan, Essex County District Attorney Jonathan W. Blodgett’s director of communications.

In what was then suspected by police to be a rival gang’s response to two victims’ non-fatal gunshot wounds at Swasey, Almonte, now 27, was arrested on firearms charges stemming from a Temple Street shooting just weeks later. He had been held on charges of armed assault with intent to murder, discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a building, unlawful possession of a firearm and obstructing a police investigation.

Similarly, those arrested with gun crimes at Swasey went free. WHAV broke the story earlier this year that 16-year-old Martin Lewis was freed after his lawyer won a court motion to suppress his identity. Lewis was indicted on two counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon after the Swasey shooting.

Besides Almonte, 18-year-old Juan Marte and 20-year-old Mario Acosta were charged with firearms-related crimes for the Temple Street strike. Marte was again arrested last November by Haverhill and State Police for illegal possession of a loaded Taurus .44 caliber revolver and a loaded 9mm Smith & Wesson semi-automatic handgun.

“All of the defendants in the Swasey Field shooting had their cases dismissed due to lack of cooperation among the witnesses,” Kimball-Monahan told WHAV.

Exclusive: Grand Jury Indicts One, While Two More Cases Dismissed

WHAV has also exclusively learned two others arrested on identical charges with Marte last November have already been freed. Cases against 20-year-old Lizmarie Lozada, and 22-year-old Carlos Rodriguez were dismissed. The remaining suspect, 19-year-old Nestor Gonzalez was indicted by an Essex County Grand Jury April 19 and will be arraigned in Superior Court.

Lozada, of Lawrence, was riding in the front passenger seat, while Rodriguez was one of three in the back seat of the car driven by Gonzalez.

Code of Silence Previously Outlined By Police Chief DeNaro

Last November, Haverhill Police Chief Alan R. DeNaro told city councilors that while his department is doing its job, it can’t control the conduct of others.

“The victims in the recent shootings of the four—we have two Haverhill, one Groveland and one Lawrence resident were the victims of those shootings. All of the victims—and I emphasize all of the victims—are uncooperative.”