In the grand scheme of development projects, what members of the Mother Brook Arts and Community Center are trying to do is like an Olympic-speed 100-yard dash.
Kids moved out of the on April 23, and painting, sculpting and teaching by September.
“This is something that could be so unique to Dedham and be so unique to [East Dedham] – part of the efforts we are involved in to revitalize this area,” said Joe Heisler, a supporter of the project and Mother Brook Community Group member.
After two hours of inspecting a royal blue bag, Dedham Police and other authorities found nothing of danger and reopened the large section of Sprague Street it closed down Monday afternoon.
Once-accused killers Paul Moccia, 51 of Dedham, and Daniel Bradley, 50 of Westwood, maintained their innocence Friday after prosecutors dropped the charges against the two men in an alleged March 2009 murder.
The two men, separately, spoke softly and with few words to the media following Friday afternoon’s short appearance in Norfolk Superior Court, only stating that they looked forward to spending the holiday weekend with their families after being held without bail for nearly three years awaiting trail.
“I just feel like it was a longtime coming,” said Karen Regan, Moccia’s sister. “Clearly there is no evidence in this case.”
Bradley’s attorney, Kevin Reddington, said he believed the case against his clients “was over.”
The two men were charged with the murder of Angel Antonio Ramirez, 37 of Framingham, over a $70,000 drug debt owed by Moccia to Ramirez, according to investigators. Prosecutors alleged that they both shot the victim, dismembered him and then “cooked” him in an industrial oven at a plastic-making facility in Norwood.
The district attorney’s office will still investigate the case as a homicide, while the defense called it a “missing persons case.”
Bradley said he was looking forward to seeing his son. As he left the courthouse Friday, he crossed the intersection of Court and High streets and picked up a young boy, hugging him.
“Put yourself in my position,” Bradley said when questioned on how he felt. “and figure it out for yourself.”
Moccia’s attorney, Steven Boozang, of Dedham, told Dedham Patch after the hearing that prosecutors first signaled they may drop the case last week, citing a lack of evidence.
“There’s a significant change of circumstances going back to Jan. 17, 2012,” assistant district attorney Thomas Finigan told Judge Paul E. Troy Friday.
“He made the right decision,” Boozang said of Finigan. “[Finigan] looked at it and saw problems.”
“Being a district attorney does not mean getting a conviction at all costs. Being a district attorney means that you have to, on occasion, take a good hard look at a case and if a case isn’t there, it is the ethical obligation to dismiss the case,” said Reddington.
On Jan. 17, Moccia’s brother, Robert, died of natural causes in New Hampshire. Prosecutors planned to put him on the witness stand during trial. In interviews with investigators, Robert Moccia said his brother told him he committed the crime, and authorities alleged that Robert Moccia drove his brother back to Dedham from Framingham after Paul Moccia dropped off the victim’s truck.
Finigan took over the case earlier this year from lead prosecutor Robert Nelson, who retired from the office.
Since Moccia’s trial hadn’t started – scheduled for April 23 – the motion by prosecutors to drop the case before jury selection means Moccia and Bradley could be charged in the future.
“Because the January death by natural causes of Robert Moccia, brother of Paul Moccia and the witness on whom the case largely rested, it has impossible [sic] to sustain the Commonwealth’s burden at this time,” a Norfolk County DA release stated.
Norfolk County DA spokesperson David Traub declined to comment if Bradley and Moccia remained persons of interest in the ongoing investigation.
There is still an open case against a third co-conspirator, John Murphy, of Plymouth, charged with accessory after a murder. He was arrested in December. Those charges have not been dropped as of Friday afternoon, Traub said.
Traub added anyone with information relating to the case should contact the district attorney’s office.
“There is a strong possibility that there are members of the public with information relative to this homicide who have not shared that information with law enforcement,” Norfolk County District Attorney Michael Morrissey said in a release. “Perhaps it was not shared in the belief that the case was solved and it was not necessary to become involved, or in the belief that authorities already know what would be offered or other reasons.”
Following nearly a year of discussion, town officials look to have a way forward on how to manage the Endicott Estate.
A study by Open the Door, Inc., concluded that the town needed to focus on bookkeeping and increase marketing in order to drive revenue, while still providing a civic purpose.
The study recommends against outsourcing management of the Estate to a private company.
Just last week, Jamie Simpson and Denice Kresker had a shaded area to relax next to a pool in the backyard of their Whiting Avenue home.
Only now they have a view of an estimated 15-foot high dirt pile along an old railroad bed.
But they aren’t alone. Eight homes on Whiting Avenue, plus several more on Hazelnut Street, have a mountain of dirt and rocks behind their homes as construction continues on the new Avery School.
Construction crews removed close to 40 trees over the past week without the knowledge of the School Building Rehabilitation Committee, which is overseeing the project, committee members told Dedham Patch.
Nearly 40 feet in the air on his bucket truck, Erik DeAvila pulled out his well-padded black Blackberry, navigated to the camera and snapped “today’s view” and sent it, as he always did, to his wife Heather.
But “today” – July 7 – would soon look different for the Dedham native and small business owner as he nearly got electrocuted and fell four stories to the pavement below.
DeAvila didn’t injure his head, neck or spine in the fall, and remains at a 24/7 rehabilitation center in Walpole. Childhood friends from a “tight-knit” East Dedham are rallying to raise money to help offset medical costs of the freak accident.
Wilson Batista Jr. still fights to hold on to his childhood. He wants to go back to Timberline Park, to meet friends, to play basketball. But he can’t just now.
“Would you want to go back there?” the 14-year-old asks about the Brentwood playground where he was nearly killed 10 months ago. A gunman’s bullet pierced his eye while he was playing basketball with friends.
Wilson has become a symbol of the senseless violent crime that has spiked in Brentwood and Central Islip in the past year. Fueled in part by gang activity that has plagued the area and others on Long Island in recent years, Brentwood has become the center of an aggressive law enforcement and county response since neighborhood residents began complaining about the fears they are living with daily.
“It’s [the gangs] against the public,” said Wilson Jr., whom police say was shot when someone mistook him for a rival gang member. An 18-year-old was charged in the case.
The road back
Wilson Jr. knows he is lucky to be alive. After the shooting on June 15, he spent five months in the hospital. “They only gave me a 10 percent chance of life. You do the math,” he said. “Hit the bull’s-eye from a mile away.”
Doctors told the Batistas that even if Wilson lived, he might never fully recover.
“No talking, no walking, couldn’t guarantee the eye – nothing,” Wilson Batista Sr. said. “Now look at him.”
For 40 long nights, the Batistas paced the halls of Schneider Children’s Hospital in New Hyde Park as their son clung to life in the intensive care unit.
“How much he’s recovered I can’t really put in words,” the boy’s mother, Ramona, said.
Still, his injuries have been severe. Wilson lost an eye, and has poor vision in the other. He lost some cognition, and has limited use of his left arm.
He relies on a cane to help him slowly move through his parents’ modest three-bedroom home near Timberline Park. Wilson attends three physical therapy sessions a week.
One session treats his 20/400 vision in his left eye. “He can’t see much. He can’t read,” Wilson Sr. said. He’s still not back in school.
Another therapy session treats his walking ability. After spending months in a hospital bed and months in a wheelchair, Wilson still doesn’t have full strength in his legs.
The third therapy session concentrates on his speech. When the bullet became lodged in Wilson’s brain, it severely disrupted his cognition, his family said. But therapy is helping. “I want [him] to have physical therapy every day,” Wilson Sr. said. “The money isn’t there.”
Bills add up
Following Wilson’s shooting, Ramona quit her job at a factory, and his father cut back his schedule as a custodian at Southside Hospital in Bay Shore.
The Batista family received monetary aid from Suffolk Legis. Ricardo Montano’s office, along with private donations totaling about $12,500.
“He’s come a long way and the family is strong and resilient,” Montano said.
The biggest help came from the Long Island Housing Services, Wilson Sr. said. Lisa Purzak, a housing counselor, helped the Batistas work with the bank to lower their monthly mortgage from $1,800 down to just above $900.
“What saved the house was Bank of America reducing the rate,” Purzak said. “Not every story is a success story.”
Ramona is home more, cooking dinner for the family, and Wilson Sr. often takes his son for drives around the neighborhood and to the mall.
“I’ll take care of them when I grow up,” Wilson Jr. said.
Wilson’s expression brightens when he talks of his family, and all they’ve done to support him – including giving him gifts.
But he doesn’t hesitate when asked what was the best gift he received. In a powerful and steady voice, Wilson says:
“My life back.”