Nine men who had just attended a funeral and were wearing tuxedos when they allegedly beat a man to death outside a nightclub were charged Monday with assault and battery, prosecutors said.
Jose Alicea was beaten Friday after an argument and died of his injuries Monday, police said. Nine of his 12 attackers were wearing black tuxedos with red vests and red ties because they had been to the funeral of a friend killed last week in a motorcycle accident, they said.
The 12 men had gone to the club to celebrate their friend's life, and Alicea was there with a small group of his friends.
There was no problem inside the club, but as it was closing Alicea had a conversation with some of the men, prosecutors said. The conversation escalated into a verbal altercation, with shouting and cursing from both sides, and then turned physical, they said.
Captured on video
Alicea, 22, was set upon by the men and was severely beaten, Assistant District Attorney Cory Flashner said during the men's arraignment Monday in Municipal Court. Significant portions of the incident were captured on video from security cameras on nearby buildings, Flashner said.
Alicea was found lying on a sidewalk with severe head injuries at about 2:30 a.m. Friday. The attackers were nearby in a limousine, police said.
The 12 men, from the Boston suburbs, pleaded not guilty to charges of aggravated assault and battery. The charges against them could be upgraded because of Alicea's death, prosecutors said.
One of the men charged, Michael Welch, of Lynn, was with the others but didn't participate in the beating, defense attorney Russell Sobelman said.
Welch was among 28 people who, after attending the funeral, went out in two limousines, Sobelman said. The driver of one of the limousines saw Welch standing behind him during the fight, he said.
'Wrong vehicle at the wrong time'
Defense attorney Mark Meehan said his clients — Justin Cooke, Jason Benaflew, Ruskyn Garcia, Johann Garcia and Ramon Berroa — are innocent and were unfortunate to be "in the wrong vehicle at the wrong time."
Meehan said some of his clients were unaware of the beating until after they were arrested and others were aware something had happened but weren't involved.
"It is unlikely that police caught all the right people, and several people who may have been involved have not been arrested," he said.
Ten of the men, including Welch and Meehan's five clients, were ordered held on $100,000 cash bail each, and one was ordered held on $200,000 cash bail. The last was ordered held without bail after the judge learned he was out on bail on unrelated drug trafficking charges.