HOLYOKE, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- With the Holyoke community on edge following the five shootings from over the weekend, the police chief is now saying one of those incidents, a homicide, could have been prevented.
Holyoke Police Chief Manny Febo claims the murder of 21-year old Jesus Otero Marrero could have been prevented, had the suspect accused of pulling the trigger been punished more harshly for a previous drug charge.
Chief Febo said Jean Carlos "Carlito" Rivera was sentenced just months ago in federal court but said the judge let him back into the community with essentially a slap on the wrist.
Hauled into court on Tuesday, Jean Carlos Rivera is charged with murdering the 21-year old Jesus Otero Marrero.
Pleading not guilty, it wasn't the first time before a judge for the Holyoke man, police call an established member of the 'La Familia' gang.
Holyoke police said Rivera, also known as "Carlito", faced a federal judge just a couple of months ago in November, set to be sentenced on drug distribution-related charges.
While police said prosecutors pushed for a jail sentence of 33-41 months in prison.
Rivera was given 1 month of "time served", released back into the community with 3 years probation.
Holyoke Police Chief Febo said quote:
"Case investigators were stunned at the time."
Western Mass News got a hold of the federal court documents and they suggest the judge knew two months ago, that Rivera had allegations of gang affiliations, based on the conditions of his release.
According to those documents, Rivera was given special conditions, requiring he not have any contact with street gangs, including La Familia.
Western Mass News spoke over video chat with a former district court Judge Mary Hurley.
She said that while judges can't predict the threat someone poses to the public, in general, allegations of gang ties should be considered a red flag.
"In circumstances where there’s gang membership, large amounts of drugs being sold, those are all things that indicate that this person is a professional criminal," Hurley explained.
Chief Febo is claiming Rivera was a known gang member in November, and that had the judge imposed a longer prison sentence then, said quote:
"The January 9, 2020 homicide of 21-year-old Holyoke resident, Jesus Otero-Marrero might have been prevented..."
Rivera's district court records have been impounded by the courts, meaning they won't be available to the media until April.
Rivera's case from Friday is just one of two homicides to happen in the city over the weekend.
Western Mass News spoke exclusively with the mother of Raequese Wright, the other victim, from Saturday's homicide.
"Turn your life around and turn to leave the streets alone. The streets ain’t your friend," Wright said.
Coming up on Western Mass News at 6 on ABC40, hear her plea about ending the gun violence that killed her son.