WOBURN - A Middlesex Superior Court judge today sentenced to prison terms ranging from seven to 30 years the four defendants in the Musto Jewelry robbery that left veteran Woburn Police Officer Robert DeNapoli seriously wounded from gunshot wounds.
After all four suspects changed their pleas to guilty in court today, Judge Jane Haggerty ordered 26-year-old Antonio Matos and 23-year-old Hector Baez-Cruz, both of Boston, to serve decades behind bars in maximum security prison MCI Cedar Junction in Walpole.
Matos, accused of shooting DeNapoli several times and characterized by prosecutors today as the mastermind behind the foiled jewelry heist, will serve between 25-and-30 years, while Baez-Cruz was sentenced to 20-to-25 years.
Co-defendants Allegra Martinez, 19, of Providence, R.I., and 18-year-old Dorchester resident Erianiss Murillo, who helped stake out the jewelry store and stage a getaway from the Four Corners area neighborhood following the Sept. 6, 2011 robbery, will spend between seven-to-eight years in MCI Framingham.
In addition, Matos and Baez-Cruz, who are reportedly cousins, will be on probation for ten years after their release from Walpole, while Martinez and Murillo were ordered to serve five years probation. All of the defendants will have to pay restitution for their crimes, likely including medical bills amassed by DeNapoli during his recovery and for wages the patrolman lost by being forced to retire as a result of his injuries.
All of the convicted felons are forbidden from making any contact with any of the victims or witnesses in the case.
"These are substantial sentences for people with no criminal background," said Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan during a press conference after today's court proceedings. "We had put together a very, very solid case against these defendants."
According to Ryan, her office gave the accused no consideration in terms of reduced sentencing recommendations or the dropping of some of the charges against them in exchange for today's change of pleas.
She speculated that after months of negotiations, the defendants' defense attorneys advised their clients to change their pleas due to the severity of the charges and the strength of the evidence compiled for the case.
Technically, all four of the suspects could have been sentenced to life in prison on just one of the dozens of charges against them — masked armed robbery — but the district attorney argued that it would have been unlikely that such a severe sentence would have been imposed, given that none of the accused had a criminal background.
During the brazen morning jewelry heist in the busy Four Corners section of the city on Sept. 6, 2011, DeNapoli was the first responding officer at the scene, where he reportedly encountered Baez-Cruz and Matos as they fled the two-story shopping center.
Matos allegedly fired several rounds at the officer, striking him a number of times. At one point, Matos allegedly climbed on top of DeNapoli’s cruiser, continuing to spray fire at point blank range.
Matos then fled on foot toward Lexington Street and exchanged fire with patrolman Mark Gibbons, who shot the suspect several times in a yard at the intersection of Lexington Street and Mayflower Road.
Police were not able to identify Matos, who apparently had no criminal record, until days after the shooting. His mother reportedly recognized him from pictures of his tattoos that were made available to the media.
At the time of the incident, DeNapoli was the second officer to be shot in the line of duty during a jewelry robbery in less than a year. Officer John Maguire was killed by gunfire in an exchange with a career criminal out on parole during a shoot-out outside Kohl’s department store on Dec. 26, 2010.