NEW BRITAIN - The day after his son’s killer was found guilty of second-degree murder, Selwyn Cartie admitted that in some respects he felt lost.
“For eight years, every day I was going to find the person who killed my son,” he said. “My whole life came to a standstill for the past eight years.”
Julian 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 several times after he approached a car full of teens and young adults to talk to a young woman at around 2 a.m. His older brother, Michael Peterson, a dean at NBHS who last year was 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 would make sure he 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 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.
“You hear about these things, you read about it, but when you go through it, it’s a bad, bad spot to be in,” the older Cartie said. “That five years took me to some very dark places.”
A tip led to the 2014 arrest of Michael Rodriguez, who was charged with Julian Cartie’s murder. Rodriguez’s lawyer said during the trial that Cartie was drunk and aggressive and the shooting was in self-defense.
But video shot of the murder on nearby surveillance cameras showed Rodriguez placing his hand on a gun at his hip as he bent down to retrieve his cell phone that had fallen out of the car during a verbal exchange with his son, Selwyn Cartie said.
The younger Cartie was struck by bullets four times. The last bullet, ripped through his heart, his father said. Rodriguez, 32, was found guilty Wednesday of second-degree murder after a 13-day trial in Hampden Superior Court in Springfield. He is expected to be sentenced Wednesday to 15 to 22 years in prison.
Cartie recalled the day he buried Julian in 2009 when he vowed to his son that he would find justice. “No matter what, before I die I’m going to find out who killed you,” Cartie said. Eight years later, he is now planning to continue the celebrations he’s held every year on Julian’s birthday.
“There’s nothing, even if they gave this guy a life sentence, that I’d be satisfied,” Selwyn Cartie said. “The only thing I am satisfied about is that he’s off the street, because I know he would kill someone else.”
Information from the Associated Press is included in this story.
Lisa Backus can be reached at 860-801-5066 or Lbackus@newbritainherald.com.