“He would just kill anyone who got in his way.”
That’s how a Springfield police captain describes Calvin Roberson, the admitted killer whose plea in Hampden Superior Court this week closed three unsolved murder cases, and is linked to a fourth.
For years, police in Springfield, led by Capt. Trent Duda, worked to make a case against Roberson – and got close. They brought charges against him in a 2006 murder, but the case unraveled. “We’ve chased him,” Duda said.
In a breakthrough police interview three weeks ago, Roberson confessed to his role in three Springfield County killings over 11 years. He was a picture of calm, telling Duda he had been part of the 2006 robbery plot that resulted in the death of Loan Nguyen, a Springfield nail salon owner, and that he, alone, shot and killed brothers Yonaides “Jimmy” Pichardo and David Pichardo in 2016 and 2017. Prosecutors say Roberson was paid $5,000 to kill Jimmy Pichardo. He stalked and killed David Pichardo after that man tried to avenge his older brother’s murder.
“He was very soft-spoken and collected and factual,” Duda told The Republican and MassLive, describing the man’s confession.
That wasn’t the man his victims faced. Not when they got in his way.
Roberson decided this year to admit to his role in three murders. It was likely not a matter of conscience.
Roberson is also charged with the 2021 killing of Francisco Roman of Chicopee. Authorities say Roberson and another man, Brandon Batiste, kidnapped and shot Roman, put his body in his own truck and set the truck on fire in Hartford. Add that killing, and this high school dropout’s known violence stretches across 15 years.
Because the two men allegedly moved Roman’s body across state lines, the killing became a federal crime, opening the defendants to a possible death sentence. It is not yet known what kind of prison sentence Roberson may receive for the Springfield killings, since the federal case is pending in U.S. District Court in Connecticut.
Facing his own death, if convicted in the killing of Francisco Roman, it appears Roberson caved. His guilty pleas in the three Springfield shootings are now part of a “global agreement” linked to the federal case. By entering guilty pleas to three charges of manslaughter this week, Roberson may believe that if convicted in Roman’s killing, the government will let him live.
The legal system may give him that, but in light of the brutality he’s long meted out, and the horror inflicted on his victims and their families, Calvin Roberson is one of the least deserving defendants we’ve ever seen. It is jarring to see his crimes pleaded down to manslaughter.
But his pleas take a confessed killer out of circulation in Hampden County – and that should be a relief to all.