Trial to begin in case of UMass overdose death

  • Jesse Carrillo of Derry, New Hampshire, left, and his attorney, J.W. Carney Jr. of Boston, talk to reporters on Gothic Street in Northampton after Carrillo’s arraignment in Hampshire Superior Court in October 2015. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Published: 5/22/2017 1:31:23 PM

NORTHAMPTON — The trial for a former University of Massachusetts Amherst graduate student accused of supplying a fatal dose of heroin to a student working as a confidential police informant is set to begin this week in Hampshire Superior Court.

Jesse Carrillo, 28, of Derry, New Hampshire, pleaded not guilty in October 2015 to involuntary manslaughter and distributing heroin. Carrillo allegedly provided heroin to Eric L. Sinacori, who was found dead from an overdose in his off-campus apartment at Puffton Village in Amherst on Oct. 4, 2013.

The case took two years to investigate, which is not unusual given that it involves a death as well as the complexity of the case, according to the Northwestern district attorney’s office. The trial is expected to last one to two weeks.

Sinacori, 20, of Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, was a third-year kinesiology major at UMass. His death came 10 months after he became a confidential informant for a now-defunct program with the University of Massachusetts Police Department. The confidential informant program ended in January 2015 following news reports and a university review.

Carrillo, originally from the Somers, New York area, was expelled from UMass in the fall of 2014. At the time, he was a graduate student in music theory and had previously received a bachelor’s degree in music with a major in flute performance at UMass.

In January of 2014, Carrillo entered a sober house rehabilitation program in New Hampshire. His attorney, J.W. Carney Jr. said Carrillo has been sober for 29 months.

At the sober house, Carillo serves as the admissions director for the entire program, Carney said.

Carney previously represented South Boston gangster James “Whitey” Bulger and, most recently, a former student at St. Paul’s School in Concord, New Hampshire, in a rape trial that received national attention.

“He has known this day was coming and he looks forward to ending this part of his journey as a drug-free and inspiration example to people suffering from heroin,” Carney said. “He has dedicated his life to helping people in this way because he knows exactly what they are going through in their struggles.”

Opening statements are expected to begin Wednesday morning.

A woman who answered the phone for the number listed on the Eric Sinacori Memorial Foundation page declined to comment.

In September 2015, Francesca Sinacori, Eric Sinacori’s mother, said she was “thrilled” to hear about the arrest and that it had been a “long time coming.”

“This is not going to bring my son back, but it gives me a little closure at this point,” Francesca Sinacori said.

Emily Cutts can be reached at


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