Camacho’s murder trial is underway; jurors visit crime scene

June 22, 2010
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The trial of the East Boston man accused of killing a 27-year-old Everett man inside King Arthur’s Lounge in Chelsea began last week and jurors visited the crime scene Monday.

Jesse Camacho, 23, of East Boston, who went by the moniker “Fat Jesse” is charged with first-degree murder for the January 24, 2008, shooting death of Jeff Santiago, 27, of Everett. He is additionally charged with two counts of attempted murder for wounding a pair of other men during the same incident.

At the beginning of the trial prosecutors talked about how two men enter King Arthur’s that fateful night carrying the tools of their trade. One, Santiago, carried a tool belt, tape measure, and other accoutrements of his job as a construction worker. The other, Camacho, carried a loaded, unregistered handgun.

“They were two men who had never even met,” said Suffolk County Chief Trial Counsel Patrick Haggan last week during opening statements in Camacho’s murder trial. “They were two men whose lives crossed paths one night with devastating consequences.”

Santiago had been enjoying a night out with friends, Haggan said. Camacho was present with friends of his own. It was an altercation between individual members of those two groups, Haggan told jurors, that led to the “shooting rampage” that claimed Santiago’s life and injured the two surviving victims.

“Nothing in the evidence will suggest that Jeff Santiago did anything that led to the carnage that night,” Haggan said. “That comes down to the actions of one man – one man who was ready to arm himself with a loaded .45 caliber semiautomatic firearm, one man who was ready to put that loaded .45 caliber semiautomatic firearm into his waist or pocket, one man who was ready to take that loaded .45 caliber semiautomatic handgun into a crowded nightclub. He was ready for trouble, ladies and gentlemen – he was looking for trouble.”

Haggan told the court that one of Santiago’s friends noticed one of Camacho’s friends in the crowd at King Arthur’s that night and confronted him about a prior dispute. That escalated into a fight in which Santiago’s friend struck Camacho’s friend with a bottle.

“That’s where it should have ended,” Haggan said, “but one man took it upon himself to take that brawl one step further … He fired five shots at anybody and everybody in that group.”

Chaos erupted in the club as dancers, bouncers, and patrons scrambled for the exits, Haggan said.

“Everyone was running for their lives from that man,” Haggan said. “Not one person was coming toward him or posing any threat to him.”

Among the injured, Haggan said, was Santiago, who neither knew Camacho nor had any part in the initial conflict.

“And when Jeff Santiago fell to the floor, Jesse Camacho shot him dead,” the prosecutor said.

Santiago died a short time later of three gunshot wounds to his chest, back, and leg. There was no question who shot him,” Haggan said.

“There’s one good thing about King Arthur’s,” Haggan said. “They’ve got a lot of video cameras.”

In the aftermath of the shooting, Haggan said, Camacho fled East Boston and the state.

“Make no mistake, ladies and gentlemen,” Haggan said. “There’s only one reason the defendant sits before you today – the police departments across this country, the U.S Marshals, and the Mexican Federales who tracked him.”

Camacho was apprehended in Mexico City on October 30, 2008. He was returned to Massachusetts on March 13, 2009.

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