Massachusetts man sentenced to life with possibility of parole in racist road rage killing

Jan 17, 2024, 4:16 PM

Dean Kapsalis is comforted by his attorneys Jack Cunha, left, and Helen Holcomb, as his sentence is...

Dean Kapsalis is comforted by his attorneys Jack Cunha, left, and Helen Holcomb, as his sentence is read during a hearing at Middlesex Superior Court, Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2024, in Woburn, Mass. Kapsalis, convicted in the 2021 killing of Henry Tapia, a Black man, following a road rage encounter in which he yelled a racial slur, was sentenced to life in prison with possibility of parole after 15 years. (David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via AP, Pool)

(David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via AP, Pool)

A Massachusetts man convicted of murder in the 2021 death of a Black man after a racist road rage encounter was sentenced Wednesday to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 15 years.

Dean Kapsalis, of Hudson, was convicted by a jury last year of second-degree murder, violation of constitutional rights and other offenses in the killing of Henry Tapia. Kapsalis and Tapia got into an argument on Jan. 19, 2021. Investigators found that as the argument wound down, Kapsalis shouted a racial slur and then hit Tapia with his pickup as he drove off. Tapia died at a hospital, prosecutors said.

“The murder of Henry Tapia is a senseless tragedy fueled by hate and anger,” District Attorney Marian Ryan said last year after the conviction. “The fact that some of the last words Henry Tapia heard were a horrific racial insult meant to intimidate and threaten him based on the color of his skin is something we cannot tolerate.”

Judge David A. Deakin, according to The Boston Globe, called the sentence Wednesday proportional to the crime. While he took into account the support Kasalis received from friends and family, he noted that “your record reflects essentially a lifelong tendency toward violence.”

Deakin also addressed relatives of Tapia, who left behind a fiancee and children.

“I am well aware that no sentence can give them what they most want, which is to have Mr. Tapia back,” Deakin said. “If I could, I wouldn’t do anything other than that.”

Kapsalis argued at trial that Tapia’s death was an accident. His sentencing was delayed by his unsuccessful attempt to reduce his conviction to manslaughter.

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Massachusetts man sentenced to life with possibility of parole in racist road rage killing