Michael Barnett, 32, of Somerville, was indicted by a Middlesex Grand Jury on charges of murder, armed robbery and witness intimidation for the November 22, 2009 death of Christopher Souza. In addition, a second defendant, Kelly Murray, 32, of Somerville, was charge with witness intimidation (two counts).
Barnett will be arraigned in Middlesex Superior Court; a date has not yet been scheduled. Murray was arraigned in Middlesex Superior Court on March 29, 2013 where Assistant Clerk Magistrate Matt Day ordered her held on $5,000 cash bail with conditions to stay away from any witnesses and comply with current conditions of probation on an unrelated case.
“Thanks to a committed and persistent team of investigators and prosecutors, coupled with new public awareness of this previously unsolved case, the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office obtained new evidence that helped lead to the indictment of the defendant for this senseless strangulation murder,” District Attorney Leone said. “I applaud the commitment of the Somerville Police and Massachusetts State Police to investigate this crime and work to bring justice for Christopher and his family.”
According to police, the victim was discovered by his mother lying motionless on his living room floor in the morning of November 23, 2009. The victim had several cords wrapped around his neck and was determined to be deceased. An autopsy by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner determined the cause of death to be strangulation by ligature and the manner of death to be homicide. An investigation was launched. The investigation revealed that the victim’s Xbox and Playstation video game systems were missing from the apartment in which he lived.
Recent news coverage of the case helped to generate new leads in the investigation which lead to the charges.
According to authorities, it is alleged that on the night of November 22, 2009, Barnett was looking to buy drugs but did not have any money to pay for the drugs.
It is alleged that Barnett went to the victim’s home in Somerville late that evening. The defendant allegedly stole the victim’s Xbox and Playstation video game systems and strangled the victim to death with the cords from the game consoles.
It is further alleged that the defendant then sold the Playstation for $50, using the money to buy drugs. Police were able to confirm the IP address of the Playstation and contacted the buyer who had activated Souza’s online account. The buyer alleged he purchased the game system from Barnett.
Murray, the girlfriend of the defendant, is charged with intimidating a witness for allegedly lying to police during the investigation.
The case was investigated by Somerville Police and State Police assigned to the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Chris Tarrant. The Victim Witness Advocate is Anne Foley.