NEWBURYPORT - The alleged ring leader of the wannabe-gang "Crimesquad 4 Life" will spend two years in jail after he pleaded guilty to the July 3 beatings of two young men at High Rock in Salisbury.
Paris Cormier, 20, formerly of Salisbury and most recently of Methuen, was sentenced in Newburyport District Court to two and a half years in the house of correction for each of the two counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon after his pleas were accepted by the court. Judge Peter Doyle required two years of the sentence to be served in Middleton Jail for crimes stemming from Cormier's role in the beatings of an 18-year old Salisbury youth and a 20-year old Amesbury man during a July 3 party at High Rock, a boulder that juts high above the Merrimack River where youths often swim. Isolated in the marshes, it's about a mile from paved roads.
The balance of Cormier's sentence will be suspended with five years of supervised probation, Doyle ruled, with conditions Cormier remain drug and alcohol free, complete an anger management program while in jail, and pay restitution for damage done to the property of a victim.
Cormier received the same sentence for his part in the January charge of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon of a man outside 127 Railroad Ave. in Salisbury. Court documents describe the incident as the beating of an individual by a group of youth, of which Cormier was a part.
Cormier was given credit for the 167 days he's already served behind bars.
Salisbury police Chief David L'Esperance said he was pleased with the results, especially the portion of the sentence involving Cormier's probation term.
"The five years of supervised probation is a key, for the probation department here does a great job," L'Esperance said yesterday. "They'll help (Cormier) become a productive member of society.
"I'm happy this case is behind us," he continued. "It will serve as a good lesson for others who are thinking of getting involved in this kind of reprehensive behavior. It sends a message that they'll be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. The Salisbury Police Department is very grateful to the court and to Assistant District Attorney Michelle Belmonte for all her hard work."
Cormier's attorney H. Ernest Stone is pleased the charges against his client were reduced from the original assault to commit murder charges, he said yesterday. Stone said further investigation indicated to him the original reports of the vicious nature of the beating were not true.
"Clearly, the crime Paris pleaded guilty to was nothing like what was described in the first charges of assault to commit murder," Stone said yesterday. "Originally, the report was that Paris knocked the victims into a campfire and kept him there. What we feel is the truth of the incident is that the victim walked through the embers of a camp fire, which was the cause of the burns on his feet."
According to the original victims' statements found in court documents in July, the two beating victims were at a late-night party at High Rock, where they and other youth had congregated to swim. The party was organized by Cormier, who police believe was the leader of the group called "Crimesquad 4 life, 3:19," which is found on Cormier's Web site at MySpace.com.
The report stated the two victims left High Rock, but noticed one of their cell phones was missing. Upon returning to High Rock, they noticed Anthony Grasso, 18, of Salisbury, was using the cell phone. (Grasso pleaded guilty to charges stemming from this incident in October.) When the victims asked for the phone to be returned, one was struck down by Cormier and surrounded by the others, according to the report.
The victims originally reported they were repeatedly beaten and kicked, with beer bottles smashed over their heads. At one point, one victim reported he was thrown into a campfire by Cormier and prevented from getting out of the fire.
Stone also said Crimesquad 4 Life was the name of a rap musical group in which Cormier and his friends played and not any type of gang.
Police, however, believe Crimesquad 4 Life members were "gang wannabees" who intended for their peers and others to think they were tough. Police believe members of the group were involved in underage drinking, vandalizing properties and acts of intimidation.
Stone said Cormier will benefit from supervised probation and from staying away from drugs and alcohol, which Stone said played a large role in Cormier's behavior and his poor decision making over the past years. Cormier lost both parents by the age of 8, Stone said.
"I think that Paris is a kid who got in trouble and made a lot of bad decisions in his life," Stone said. "He's made mistakes and now has an opportunity to better himself. ... I'm hoping when he is released he can start fresh; he wants to turn his life around."
Also pleading guilty Wednesday to a charge of assault and battery with dangerous weapons was Marius Carter, 19, of 362 Essex St., Lawrence. Judge Doyle sentences Carter to 2 1/2 years in the house of correction with one year to be served and the balance suspended with three years of supervised probation. Carter's probation is also conditioned upon remaining drug and alcohol free, completion of an anger management program, paying restitution, and having no contact with the victims.
According to Steve O'Connell of the Essex County District Attorney's office, two other defendants charged in the July 3 beating are scheduled for trials on Jan. 18. They are, Joshua Babcock, 18, and Scott O'Connor, 17, both of Salisbury.