Youth center pushed at 2d meeting

The man who brutally stabbed 27-year-old Betina Francois to death in 2004 spent the last two-and-a-half years mounting a defense, in which he claimed to have killed his estranged girlfriend in self-defense. It took a Plymouth County jury less than an hour on Monday to reject his claims and send him to jail for the rest of his life.

Francois, a popular Mattapan Community Health Center employee, died at the hands of Pierre Cadet, her estranged boyfriend who stabbed her to death in her Brockton apartment when he feared that he might go to jail for repeatedly threatening her life.

Monday's first-degree murder conviction mandates a life sentence for Cadet without the possibility of parole, a punishment that was handed down immediately after the verdict.

Francois's murder stunned the Mattapan community, which had come to know her as a vivacious organizer at the community health center on Blue Hill Avenue. Ironically, the health center was in the middle of a campaign to promote awareness about the perils of domestic violence when Francois was murdered.

Betina's brother, Bose Francois, traveled from New York to watch the court proceedings alongside other relatives. He joined his sister, mother and another brother in making victim impact statements after the verdict came in.

"Now that justice has been served, she can rest in peace finally once and for all," Francois told the Reporter. "[Cadet] will have a lot of free time to think about what he has done to my family."

Cadet, now 33, was a suspect from the first hours of the murder case on Sept. 26, 2004. Cadet was apparently fleeing the state when he crashed his car on a Rhode Island highway, critically injuring himself. Police seeking to notify his next of kin instead came upon a brutal crime scene at the Brockton apartment he once shared with Francois. The 27-year-old woman was found stabbed to death, the victim of an assault the day before.

Cadet had been convicted of beating Francois earlier in the year and police had been called to the home before for reports of Cadet stalking the young woman, who had obtained a restraining order against him.

Plymouth County District Attorney Timothy J. Cruz said that prosecutors felt that the case against Cadet was very strong. His defense was centered on a claim &endash; rejected by prosecutors and, ultimately, the jury &endash; that he was acting in self-defense when he stabbed Francois nine times.

"(Cadet) took the stand and his story was basically that she came at him with two knives- and he took them away from her," Cruz said. "When you look at the scene and where the blood was, that certainly was not supported by the evidence."

Cruz said that Cadet also left behind a note, which Cruz described as a "farewell" message in which he explained his actions.

"The position of prosecutors is that this was an abusive relationship," Cruz said.

"On this day, the evidence showed that Betina had had enough. She was calling the police and (Cadet) didn't want to go to jail."

"His story wasn't supported by the evidence. The jury made the determination that he did commit this murder with extreme cruelty and atrocity," says Cruz. "I think that justice, as far as we can have it in this case, has been done."

Cadet will likely spend his life term at Cedar Junction, the state's maximum-security prison in Walpole.