GROVELAND — Beth Brodie was the young victim of a brutal murder more than two decades ago.
But close to 1,000 people turned out for a candlelight vigil at the Bagnall Elementary School early Saturday night to remember her and nine other Essex County victims who died at the hands of convicted juvenile murderers. The crowd came to reflect, pray and sing songs in remembrance of the victims.
People also joined family and friends of Beth Brodie in expressing their dismay about the recent ruling by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court that sentencing juveniles to life without parole is unconstitutional.
“I’m shocked,” family friend Danielle Avery said while wearing a pink T-shirt with Brodie’s picture on it. “I can’t believe this can happen.”
As a result of the SJC decision, juveniles convicted of murder could be eligible for parole in as little as 15 years.
Beth Brodie of Groveland was just 15 years old in November 1992 when she was brutally murdered after telling Richard Baldwin she didn’t want to date him. Baldwin, who was 16 at the time and had recently moved from Groveland to Peabody, beat her to death with a metal baseball bat. Baldwin was subsequently convicted and sentenced to life in prison without parole. He appealed the decision to the state Supreme Court in 1997, saying he did not get a fair trial, but the court ruled against him.
Family and friends used Saturday’s vigil as a public forum to protest the SJC ruling.
“We were promised justice and that’s life in prison without parole,” Avery said. Brodie was Avery’s childhood best friend. She, along with some other classmates of Brodie’s, started the Justice For Beth Brodie group after hearing about the SJC ruling.
“To have to go through this again and maybe every five years, it’s just heartbreaking,” Avery said. “There is no closure.”