Two New Bedford Men Plead Guilty in Stabbing Death of West End Teen
FALL RIVER — Two New Bedford men pleaded guilty this week to manslaughter charges in connection with the August 24, 2016 stabbing homicide of 15-year-old Mateo Morales in New Bedford, Bristol County District Attorney Thomas M. Quinn III announced.
Jose Lopez, 19, admitted in Fall River Superior Court to manslaughter and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. He was sentenced by Judge Renee Dupuis to serve 17 to 20 years in state prison followed by two years of supervised probation. Luis Rafael Class, 25, admitted to a single charge of manslaughter. He was sentenced to serve 15 to 18 years, according to Greg Miliote, communications director for the Bristol County DA.
"This incident was the continuation of long standing ill-will between youth from the south end and the west end of the city of New Bedford," Miliote wrote.
The two men were arrested on August 24, 2016, following a triple stabbing near the Temple Landing Housing Development, where Morales lived. Morales died of his injuries. Two other victims, a 16-year-old male and a 22-year-old male, were treated for non-life threatening injuries.
According to prosecutors, on the day of the stabbing, Morales and a friend had earlier been jumped by a group of South End males who beat Morales and took his chain. After the incident, social media posts about the beating and chain escalated tensions on both sides.
At around 6 p.m., Class, of the South End, was driving his mother’s white Hyundai near Temple Landing when he engaged in a verbal altercation with Morales, who was on foot. Class claims Morales threw something at his vehicle, possibly a plastic water bottle.
Class drove to the South End and gathered "a group of confederates," including Lopez, to return to the West End to assault Morales. Video surveillance showed Class and Lopez chasing Morales and cornering him against a black Mercedes. Class was seen throwing punches at Morales and Lopez stabbed him, Quinn's office said.
When paramedics arrived, they found Morales on the front entryway to his mother’s residence suffering from extreme blood loss. The teen was rushed to St. Luke’s Hospital where he died.
“The death of 15-year-old Mateo Morales was a very tragic and unnecessary loss of life. It was the result of longstanding animosity between rival groups from the West End and South End of New Bedford. The assailants appear to have not understood the gravity of their actions and the resulting consequences. This senseless street violence has left the victim’s family scarred forever and two other families’ lives turned upside down. It is a very sad situation,” Quinn said.
The case was prosecuted by Co-First Assistant District Attorney Patrick Bomberg and Assistant District Attorney Robert Digiantomaso.