Skip to content ↓

Final verdict issued in Raustein case

The legal books were closed last week in the 1992 murder of MIT student Yngve K. Raustein, with all three of his assailants sentenced to long prison terms.

On January 19, the third and last defendant in the case, Alfredo Velez, 20, of Cambridge, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and armed robbery charges in Middlesex Superior Court. Mr. Velez, who had negotiated a plea bargain in return for his testimony at the trials of his co-defendants, was sentenced by Judge Robert A. Barton to 12-20 years at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution, Cedar Junction. He will be eligible for parole in eight years.

On January 14, the youth accused of wielding the knife in the stabbing of Mr. Raustein, Shon McHugh, 17, of East Cambridge, was found guilty of first degree murder as a juvenile-for a second time-and was sentenced to serve 19-20 years by Judge Roanne Sragow, the maximum allowable under juvenile law. Mr. McHugh will be held by the Department of Youth Services until his 21st birthday and then transferred to state prison to serve the remainder of his sentence. Because he was convicted as a juvenile, he will be eligible for parole in 15 years.

Mr. McHugh, who was 15 when the crime was committed, was found guilty in a jury-waived trial in juvenile court in October, but was granted a second trial before a jury under the state's so-called de novo trial system for juveniles. After the jury returned its guilty verdict, Middlesex District Attorney Thomas Reilly said he would file legislation to abolish the de novo provision in juvenile law, as it already has been in adult court.

The third defendant, Joseph Donovan, 19, of Cambridge, was found guilty in October of first-degree murder by reason of joint venture with Mr. McHugh and was sentenced by Judge Barton to a life term in state prison with no parole. He was given a concurrent 20-25 year sentence for armed robbery.

Mr. Raustein, a Norwegian majoring in aeronautics and astronautics, was 21 and a member of the Class of 1994 when he died on Sept. 18, 1992. He and a companion, Arne Fredheim, also a student from Norway, were accosted as they walked along Memorial Drive near the Hayden Library.

At the trials for Mr. McHugh and Mr. Donovan, Mr. Velez testified that as the two students passed him and his companion, words were exchanged and that Mr. Donovan punched Mr. Raustein, knocking him down. Mr. McHugh then stabbed Mr. Raustein, wiping his knife blade on his back, Mr. Velez said. The assailants took Mr. Raustein's wallet, containing $30, and also Mr. Fredheim's, which contained $3 in it.

Mr. Raustein's parents, Elmer and Inghild Raustein, and his brother, Dan-Jarle, all of Os, Norway, attended the trials of Mr. McHugh and Mr. Donovan.

Following Mr. McHugh's second conviction, Elmer Raustein told Judge Sragow before sentencing that his son had been "a very quiet, studious young man. We were very proud of him when he was accepted to MIT. Now our lives will not be the same. We are not looking for revenge; we are looking for justice."

In sentencing Mr. McHugh, the judge told him, "You have no respect for human life."

In an interview after the verdict, the slain student's father told The Boston Globe he was "feeling enormous relief that it is all over.

"We are still having a terrible time," he said. "But I also would like to say we are gladdened by all the support we have got here, it has been remarkable-from MIT, from the district attorney, from the people of Cambridge, from the victim-witness office."

The Raustein family's travel to Cambridge for the trials was arranged by the district attorney's office and MIT. The Institute also arranged for living quarters for the family.

A version of this article appeared in the January 26, 1994 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 38, Number 20).

Related Topics

More MIT News