BOSTON — A Peabody teenager who received a life sentence for beating a cheerleader to death with a baseball bat in 1992 has canceled his parole hearing.
Rejecting an insanity plea, jurors convicted Richard Baldwin, then 16, in the brutal murder of 15-year-old Beth Brodie of Groveland. He was scheduled to appear before the seven-member Massachusetts Parole Board next month.
While Baldwin was sentenced to life without parole in 1994, the U.S. Supreme Court and later the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) retroactively struck down life sentences without parole for teenagers.
The high courts ruled scientific research shows lifelong imprisonment for juveniles is cruel and unusual punishment because their brains are not fully developed.
As a result, Baldwin is eligible for, but not guaranteed parole. Since the SJC’s ruling in 2012, the number of parole hearings for teens sentenced to life without parole for first degree murder has totaled 47. Of that number, 18 convicts were granted parole, 25 were denied, according to the Executive Office of Public Safety. Four other hearings took place last year, but a final vote has not been taken.
The story was first reported by The Salem News.
It’s unclear why Baldwin decided not to attend the hearing.
Gloriann Moroney, Massachusetts Parole Board executive director, did not return multiple calls seeking comment.
Baldwin and Brodie had been classmates at Pentucket Regional High School before he moved to Peabody, according to court documents. Brodie’s friends told police they dated a few times. They said the two met near Brodie’s home days before the murder where she told him she no longer wanted to date him.
In graphic court testimony, prosecutors told how the victim was killed on Nov. 18, 1992. That day, Baldwin telephoned a friend, Skye Albert-Hall, and told him he wanted to die because Brodie, their mutual friend, rejected his advances, prosecutors said.
At 4:30 that afternoon, Baldwin arrived at Hall’s home in Groveland. He insisted Hall go to the victim’s house nearby, and persuade her to return to Hall’s home with him.
When Brodie arrived, Hall went upstairs, while Brodie and Baldwin talked downstairs. Minutes later, the victim went upstairs and told Hall that Baldwin vowed to kill her.
Baldwin followed Brodie into Hall’s room, carrying a metal baseball bat. As he approached her, Baldwin asked if she was scared, and then swung the bat at her, Hall testified. She deflected the first blow, falling down while Hall tried to grab the bat away from Baldwin. But he was shoved and Baldwin then swung the bat twice more, hitting the victim in the head, causing fatal skull fractures.
Following the attack, Baldwin went to Pentucket Regional High School where he asked staff to call an ambulance because he had swallowed pills and drank wine. He admitted to the principal and a teacher he had killed Brodie, court documents said. Baldwin was arrested and taken to Hale Hospital in Haverhill where he was diagnosed with a life-threatening ingestion of alcohol, Xanax, and ibuprofen. While hospitalized, police said he admitted killing the victim to a nurse. Police officers on guard in the hospital room overheard Baldwin tell his parents of the killing.
Baldwin appealed his conviction to the SJC, but it was denied. His attorney, Hugh W. Samson, did not return a call seeking comment.
Sean Aylward, Brodie’s brother, said he was relieved to hear the parole hearing was canceled. In the nearly 30 years since his sister’s death, Baldwin has yet to ask for forgiveness or take responsibility for his actions.
“He never showed an ounce of remorse,” he said. “I dreaded the idea of attending a parole board hearing to keep him locked up. I hope I never have to.”