MANCHESTER, NH – Cell phone and security camera videos, along with mistakes made by accused murderer Anderson Pereira “reveal him as the one and only killer” of his romantic rival, Zakhia “Zak” Charabaty, a prosecutor said Monday in her opening statements.
The trial of Pereira, 42, formerly of 142 Pleasant Valley St., Methuen, Mass., charged with first-degree murder, two counts of falsifying physical evidence and theft by unauthorized taking, began with opening statements by both the prosecution and defense. After, the jury viewed Charabaty’s home at 245 Pasture Drive and the Market Basket in Bedford, they returned to the courthouse to watch a video of various sites in Massachusetts.
Pereira is accused of murdering Charabaty, 52, of 245 Pasture Drive on March 13, 2020, putting his body in Charabaty’s box truck and then driving to Massachusetts where he buried him at a construction site on Milk Street in Methuen. Then, he ditched the truck in Lawrence, Mass., according to prosecutors.
The truck was found after family members used Charabaty’s iPad to locate his Apple watch, which was in the truck. Blood found there proved to be Charabaty’s.
Assistant New Hampshire Attorney General Meghan Hagaman, in her 45-minute opening statement, told a Hillsborough County Superior Court Northern District jury that by the time the state presents all its evidence they will be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that Pereira, who was in a relationship with Charabaty’s wife, Flavia Deoliveira, for seven years including while she was married, is solely responsible for killing her husband. She said Flavia Deoliveira had reconciled with her husband and was moving back into their Manchester home.
Defense attorney Theodore Lothstein, however, said the case consists largely of circumstantial evidence. He suggested that both Charabaty’s wife and her son, Gabriel Baronto, had motives to want Charabaty dead. Charabaty had gone to an attorney and was seeking an annulment of his marriage, while Baronto had threatened his stepfather about six days before he died.
Lothstein said the state’s evidence implicates Pereira in a cover-up, not a murder. It is indicative, he said, of Pereira protecting someone who has influence over him.
Pereira, 42, is Deoliveira’s ex-boyfriend. The two carried on their romance even after Deoliveira, who was facing deportation for being in the country illegally from Brazil, married Charabaty.
In October 2019, Lothstein said Deoliveira was heading into Salem District Court when she was met by federal agents from ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and was arrested for being in the country illegally. She was jailed for five days before Pereira could bail her out.
After she was released, she met Charabaty, a U.S. citizen, a successful businessman with a delivery service who drove a Mercedes. (Pereira, according to Lothstein, didn’t have a car and worked nights at the Texas Roadhouse in Methuen.)
After two or three face-to-face meetings, she moved into Charabaty’s home and less than three months later, on Jan. 23, 2020, her son’s 24th birthday, married him. Deoliveira’s sister and son arrived from Brazil for the wedding and an extended stay.
Deoliveira, Lothstein said, knew she could get lawful status by marrying a U.S. citizen. “She rushed to marry him,” he said.
Deoliveira, Lothstein said, adores her son, and indulged him with a drone, a bicycle and a remote control car to use in their cul-de-sac neighborhood. It is the “dead of winter,” he said, and Baronto, who speaks little to no English, is isolated and has nowhere to go. Tensions grew between the two men.
On March 7, 2020, the two had a blowout. Charabaty called Baronto derogatory names, said he had no manners and no education.
Baronto moved toward Charabaty as if he were going to hit him. He said he was going to make one side of Charabaty’s face “crooked” or “droop” to match the other side. One side of Charabaty’s face was paralyzed.
“This is my home,” Charabaty said. He pointed to the door and told him to “get the fuck out.”
Lothstein said Deoliveira left with her son, leaving her wedding band behind. They drove to Methuen where they stayed with Pereira.
In the days following the argument, Charabaty sought the advice of an attorney. He told a friend he was getting an annulment.
Hagaman said Charabaty and Deoliveira later reconciled and he asked her and her son to return home. She planned to go back on March 13, 2020. The last text Charabaty sent was to his wife at 9 p.m. on March 12, 2020, telling her he was going to bed.
The state contends Charabaty was killed the following morning while he was asleep in his bed.
Lothstein said Deoliveira did return to the house on March 13, 2020, to clean it, including changing the bed linens.
Hagaman said investigators were led to Pereira through his and Charabaty’s cell phones. They were tracked leaving Charabaty’s home about 1:15 a.m. on March 13, 2020, stopping at Market Basket in Bedford and then heading south onto I-293 and I-93 into Methuen, Mass.
Surveillance video from businesses near the Texas Roadhouse in Methuen, where Pereira worked, recorded a box truck consistent with Charabaty’s at 2:14 a.m. A person exits the truck and deposits several filled bags into separate dumpsters.
That individual then damages something and throws it over the fence. Police later recover Charabaty’s cellphone, which was sending signals until 1:49 a.m., from that area. His iWatch, which also sends and receives signals from cell towers, was connected with towers in the vicinity of the Texas Roadhouse at the time the box truck was seen on the video.
Video surveillance from the Home Depot in Methuen also recorded Pereira buying a spaded shovel.
Charabaty’s body was found on July 12, 2020, buried at a Methuen construction site.
The day after he spoke to Manchester police, Pereira fled to Florida where he used an alias. In October 2021, he was stopped by Florida Fish & Game officials. He ran but was quickly apprehended and later brought back to New Hampshire to face charges.
Hagaman told the jurors that the defense would point to Deoliveira and Baronto as possible suspects but both had alibis. On the night of March 12, 2020, they were watching the Netflix series, “Stranger Things,” in Pereira’s apartment and took a screenshot of a scene from the show on Baronto’s cell phone.
“Why would anybody take a picture of a scene of “Stranger Things”?” Lothstein asked the jurors.
The trial is expected to last two weeks.