Jury selection starts in 2017 murder case

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Jun. 7—SALEM, Mass. — A judge told accused murderer Hayden Delafuente to lower his protective mask so a pool of prospective jurors could see if they knew or recognized him in a Salem Superior courtroom.

Delafuentes, 25, is on trial for the first-degree murder of Matthew Sabatino, 28, and for seriously injuring Daniel Doore in Haverhill more than four years ago.

He's accused of stabbing Sabatino, resulting in his death, and also stabbing Doore, causing serious bodily injuries, outside a downtown Haverhill establishment on May 28, 2017.

Jury empanelment in the case started Monday morning. The trial is expected to run into next week, Judge Thomas Dreschler told the prospective jurors.

Superior Court trials were delayed for months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Protective measures, including social distancing and mask wearing, still will be taken in the courtroom during the trial "to maintain a healthy and safe environment," Dreschler said.

In addition to Delafuente, jurors were introduced Monday to assistant district attorneys Erin Bellavia and Jessica Strasnick, who will be prosecuting the case, and defense attorneys Christopher Federico and John Machlachlan.

Dreschler also read a list of potential witnesses to the jury pool, which included Doore, of Methuen, Courtney Trussell, of Lawrence, Stephanie Sabatino, of Haverhill, a number of Haverhill police officers and state police investigators.

None of the potential jurors during initial questioning said they knew or were related to Delafuente. There was also no response from the jury pool when asked if they had an interest in the outcome of the case.

Sabatino died June 8, 2017 at Massachusetts General Hospital after he allegedly was stabbed by Delafuentes.

He was survived by his fiancee and two young children.

According to police and family members, Sabatino was out in Haverhill that night with his fiancee, along with a male friend and his significant other, when he witnessed a man in an altercation with his friend outside a downtown establishment.

When he tried to help his friend, Sabatino was stabbed in the heart and soon was transported to Lawrence General Hospital. Later, he was airlifted to Mass General.

Investigators said Delafuente had a bloody folding knife in his possession when arrested. When questioned, Delafuente said he carried the knife for protection and did not deny being a gang member.