The Bella Bond case made progress Friday after the child’s mother Rachel Bond, 41, struck a plea deal with prosecutors. In a Boston courtroom on Friday, Bond pleaded guilty to being an accessory to the fact, helping her boyfriend Michael McCarthy dispose of her daughter Bella’s body.
The body of Bella Bond, then referred to as Baby Doe, washed ashore on Deer Island in Boston Harbor in May 2015. Following the discovery of the body, a composite image of the girl’s face was widely circulated, gaining millions of shares on social media.
According to prosecutors, this led Rachel Bond to confide to a friend that her boyfriend, Michael McCarthy, 36, had murdered the child. Both Bond and McCarthy have been incarcerated since September 2015.
As part of her agreement with prosecutors, Bond has agreed to testify against McCarthy, who has been charged with first-degree murder. Bond, whose trial was originally scheduled to begin on February 27, was being held on a $1 million bond, which has since been revoked.
The judge overseeing the Bella Bond case has said that Bond’s sentence will not be imposed until the completion of McCarthy’s trial, which was originally scheduled to start in April, but has been pushed back to May or early June following today’s development.
As part of their case, prosecutors have alleged that Bella’s short life was filled with abuse and neglect. A previous roommate of Bond and McCarthy has testified that on multiple occasions the child was locked in a closet for up to an hour where she screamed repeatedly to be let out.
Prosecutors claim that on the night of Bella’s death, Bond sent McCarthy into the child’s room to help her get to sleep. It is alleged McCarthy punched the child repeatedly in the abdomen resulting in her death.
When the mother of two entered Bella’s bedroom later that night, she noticed the child’s body was grey. When McCarthy saw Bond’s reaction to the body, it is alleged he said, “She was a demon anyway. It was her time to die.”
Police claim that Bond helped McCarthy place the child’s body into a weighted duffel bag and drop it in an isolated part of Boston Harbor. Speaking from the Boston courtroom on Friday, Bond’s lawyer Janice Bassil claims Bond felt threatened by McCarthy, and feared for her life if she went to police.
“I do see her as a victim in this case.”
Bassil continued, saying that Bond’s daughter was everything to the mother, and that she was “very eager” to testify against McCarthy.
McCarthy’s legal team meanwhile claim that he had nothing to do with the death of Bella, and that Bond told him the girl had been taken by child services when he inquired as to her whereabouts.
Previously, Bond’s legal team had asked the judge to dismiss all charges against the mother, claiming the allegations were false. Due to intense media scrutiny, the lawyers also requested the trial be moved to nearby Berkshire County.
A joint recommendation from prosecutors and Bond’s legal team has requested that Bond receive credit for the time she has already served. This means that Bond will be eligible for release in May 2017, when she will face further two years of parole.
Michael McCarthy currently faces a charge of first-degree murder, which in Massachusetts carries a maximum penalty of life in prison without parole.
[Featured image by Pat Greenhouse/ AP Images]