Friday, June 14, 2024


Victim Christopher Souza, 24, is shown in a screen capture from Fox News.

Victim Christopher Souza, 24, is shown in a screen capture from Fox News.

A Somerville man has been found guilty Monday of first-degree murder for the strangling of Christopher Souza, 24, another Somerville resident, more than four years ago.

Michael Barnett, 33, of Somerville, was convicted by a Middlesex Superior Court Jury of first-degree murder and armed robbery for the Nov. 22, 2009, death of Souza. Middlesex Superior Court Judge Heidi Brieger scheduled sentencing for 10 a.m. Tuesday.

“The defendant has now been held responsible for the drug-fueled murder of Christopher Souza,” Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan said. “I commend the determination and commitment of the Somerville Police and the State Police detectives who continued to pursue new leads and evidence in this case to obtain justice and closure for Christopher’s family and friends. We hope this verdict brings them some peace and healing.”

Souza’s body was found by his mother early Nov. 23, 2009, with several cords wrapped around his neck. His Xbox and Playstation video game systems were missing, a detail that wound up being key to the investigation.

According to authorities, Barnett wanted to buy drugs the night before, but didn’t have any money. He went to Souza’s apartment, stealing the Xbox and Playstation systems and strangling Souza to death with cords from the game consoles, later selling the Playstation for $50.

Police tracked the IP address of the Playstation and contacted the buyer who had activated Souza’s online account. The buyer said he bought the game system from Barnett, police said.

Barnett was indicted March 28 by a Middlesex Grand Jury on charges of murder, armed robbery and witness intimidation. A co-defendant, girlfriend Kelly Murray, 32, of Somerville, was charged with two counts of witness intimidation for allegedly lying to police during the investigation. Murray was arraigned in Middlesex Superior Court on March 29, when Assistant Clerk Magistrate Matt Day ordered her held on $5,000 cash bail with conditions to stay away from any witnesses and comply with the terms of her probation on an unrelated case. Upon bail review, Murray’s bail was lowered to $2,500 and she was put on house arrest with GPS monitoring. Her charges are pending.

This post was compiled from press releases.

Previous story: Man strangled victim with cords from his video game system, Somerville police say