SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – The man convicted in the 2009 shooting death of former New Britain High School football star Julian Cartie was given a life sentence Wednesday.
Michael Rodriguez, who was convicted last week of second-degree murder, will not be eligible for a parole hearing for 22-and-a-half years. “At least I have some satisfaction,” said Cartie’s father Selwyn who waited eight years for justice. “I don’t get my so back but I’ll know for 30 to 35 years that he (Rodriguez) can’t do to another family what he did to mine.”
Cartie, a former New Britain High School football star who was preparing to head to Afghanistan with his National Guard unit, was gunned down on a Springfield, Mass., street after a night of clubbing with family and friends in February 2009. The 25-year-old was shot four times with the last bullet hitting his heart after he approached a car full of teens and young adults to talk to a young woman at around 2 a.m.
Cartie’s older brother, Michael Peterson, a dean at NBHS who was last year named New Britain’s first poet laureate, wrote a play, “I Wish Life Had Training Wheels,” telling of the impact the death had on his family, including the chilling moment Selwyn Cartie cried out in pain, “They killed my son,” on the night of the murder.
In the years following his son’s death, Selwyn Cartie called the Springfield Police Department two or three times a month to keep the case alive. The family staged yearly vigils in Springfield in the area were Julian Cartie was killed and celebrated his birthday as if he were still alive.
For nearly five years, Springfield detectives had no motive and no concrete leads on the killer. One police official made the comment that it was as if the murder never happened, since it appeared as if the suspect had vanished into thin air with a carload of young women.
Rodriguez was charged in the shooting in 2014. Cartie’s family attended the trial every day in Springfield, Mass. Selwyn Cartie admitted last week that he felt lost after the conviction because he had just spent eight years dealing with bringing his son’s killer to justice.
Selwyn Cartie was also on hand Wednesday when a judge gave Rodriguez a life sentence. He much serve 15 years for the murder and another seven-and-a-half years on gun charges before he is eligible for a parole hearing.
“I called the Springfield Police Department every week, I never slept,” Selwyn Cartie said. “I couldn’t rest until they found the person that killed my son.”
Lisa Backus can be reached at 860-801-5066 or Lbackus@newbritainherald.com.