A particularly gripping murder trial is getting underway in Boston, where a teenage son stands accused of beating his mother with a claw hammer, wrapping her in a sleeping bag, and leaving her to die in a closet two years ago.

Norton Cartright, then 19, now 21, faces a first-degree murder charge.

A Suffolk County homicide prosecutor walked a jury through how the Chelsea man allegedly murdered his mother in 2006.

“You’re going to hear some gruesome details, ladies and gentlemen,” Assistant District Attorney David Fredette said his opening remarks Monday.

Fredette said the defendant admitted to police that he did indeed strike 46-year-old Yolande Danestoir in the head with a hammer on Aug. 26, 2006, after a heated argument. Danestoir, the prosecutor said, had banned Cartright from her Reynolds Street home in the course of what he called a “volatile” relationship, then found him inside when she returned home from work that morning.

“On August 25 two years ago, Yolande Danestoir went to work from 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 a.m. at Youville Hospital,” Fredette said. “The next time Yolande Danestoir was seen was 10 days later when her body was pulled from that closet, wrapped in a bed sheet and stuffed in a sleeping bag.”

Cartright has since told authorities that he tried to reach his mother by phone after her murder, but prosecutors say they have evidence that Cartright actually used his mother’s cell phone after they say he killed her — to call his girlfriend, they say.

Days later, Chelsea police were investigating after Danestoir hadn’t been seen at work. They smelled something coming from the bedroom closet.

“What they smelled smelled to them like rotting flesh,” Fredette said. When they opened it, however, there was nothing inside. Investigators believe that Cartright had placed the body in that closet first, and then moved it to another closet off the apartment’s kitchen.

They went to that kitchen closet, in which furniture and other items were stacked almost to the ceiling, prosectors said.

“As the detectives took item after item from that closet, the smell got stronger and stronger,” Fredette told the jury. “They pulled out a sleeping bag and found [Danestoir’s] decomposing body.”

Cartright was taken to Chelsea police headquarters and questioned about his mother’s murder. That’s when they say he confessed on tape. That tape will be played at trial.

“What you’re going to hear, ladies and gentlemen, is going to be chilling,” the prosecutor said. “The defendant says she threw something at him. He says he threw something at her. He described the head of a hammer. He threw the hammer again …. Then wrapped her up and put her in the closet. Later he heard some noises coming from the closet, so he throws some chairs on top of her to keep her from moving around.”

Fredette said a claw hammer stained with Danestoir’s blood and DNA was recovered from the rafters of her basement.

“All of the evidence is going to point to one person, ladies and gentlemen,” he told the jury. “The defendant – Norton Cartright.”

Cartright was indicted for first-degree murder on December 14, 2006.

About The Author

John Guilfoil is the editor-in-chief of Blast: Boston's Online Magazine and the Blast Magazine Network. He can be reached at [email protected]. Tweet @johnguilfoil.

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