Beverly Man Guilty of Manslaughter
A jury found Sajan Christensen, 20, guilty of voluntary manslaughter in the 2011 stabbing death of James Vernazzaro, 26, today in Salem Superior Court following one and half days of deliberations. Judge Howard Whitehead will sentence Christensen on October 21st at 9:00 a.m. He faces up to 20 years in state prison.
Essex Assistant District Attorney Kristen Buxton proved that on March 17, 2011, the defendant challenged the victim to a fight because the victim had called a girl, Melissa Hicks, who the defendant used to date. After arming himself with a knife, the defendant went with his friend, Adam Martin, who was armed with a baseball bat, to Balch Park in Beverly to meet the victim. The victim was unarmed and shirtless. The two men attacked the victim, who was fatally stabbed in the heart and suffered 4 other stab wounds and blunt force trauma to his head.
Adam Martin pleaded guilty to manslaughter on September 9th and was sentenced to 12-15 years in state prison.
ADA Buxton praised the work of Beverly Police Detective Jeff Liacos, and Massachusetts State Police Detectives Robert LaBarge, Norman Zuk and Tony Schena. Mr. Vernazzaro’s family members received assistance from Essex Victim Advocate Deborah Dunn.