S. Boston man admits murdering woman, 85 Also guilty of arson; gets life sentence

A South Boston man admitted yesterday that he brutally murdered an elderly woman in her Fenway apartment and then set the apartment on fire to destroy evidence. Brett Christianson, 38, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in Suffolk Superior Court, acknowledging he choked and stabbed Nordella Newson to death in her Burbank Street apartment and then set the fire.

Newson had no immediate family but she had a wide circle of friends in the Fenway neighborhood. Newson, 85, typically accepted packages for other tenants, and often scolded prostitutes and their customers when they appeared in the neighborhood, according to friends. She had also loaned cash to Christianson when he was down on his luck, they said. He had then lived in her apartment building, but moved to South Boston about a year before the murder. Chief trial counsel Elizabeth Keeley said that Christianson admitted to Boston police that he planned to rob Newson but resorted to violence when Newson fiercely resisted. Christianson received a mandatory life sentence for the murder. He also confessed to arson and was given 12 to 15 years in prison, to be served concurrently with the murder sentence. Christianson will be eligible for parole in about 15 years. At yesterday’s hearing, a neighbor and the pastor of Newson’s church both filed written victim-impact statements and Superior Court Judge Vieri Volterra read them before sentencing. “Nordella never hurt a soul,” wrote neighbor Ruth Andrews, who met Newson in 1978. “She was a neighborhood vigilante in her own way, not taking any guff from anyone . . . However, the very people we thought might be dangerous to her never harmed her.” Andrews wrote that she heard what she now realizes was the sounds of Christianson beating Newson that night. She mistook it for a lover’s spat between a young couple. When the fire broke out, Andrews wrote, she evacuated her fourth-floor apartment and joined neighbors outside, then remained in the cold as police processed the crime scene. Andrews said she remains angry. “She was old and lived alone,” Andrews wrote, “but she is remembered fondly.” The Rev. John Heinemeier, pastor of Resurrection Lutheran Church in Roxbury, wrote that Newson would want to know why Christianson exploded into violence, and if anyone tried to get him “appropriate help.” “I believe Ms. Newson would be asking such questions if she still had a voice,” he wrote. “We pray for {Christianson’s} peace just as we have been praying for Ms. Newson all these months.”

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S. Boston man admits murdering woman, 85 Also guilty of arson; gets life sentence. (2017, Jul 21). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/s-boston-man-admits-murdering-woman-85-also-guilty-of-arson-gets-life-sentence-8214/