In the week following the Raustein murder, the media focused on three tangential stories that proved especially damning to the suspects. The first suggestively tied the Raustein incident to a string of muggings and murders recently endured by European tourists in Florida. The second regarded a game called "knockout," which authorities alleged the three were playing on the night of Raustein's murder. Knockout — according to a September 20, 1992, Globe story — "called for the trio to select a victim at random and hit that person, with the hope of 'winning' by sending the victim to the ground with one punch." The paper attributed the "knockout" tip to "a source close to the murder investigation."

There was also a third, much larger issue consuming news cycles. After friends of the perpetrators showed little remorse for Raustein, town-versus-gown hostilities reached alarming levels. Among other things, neighborhood youths told reporters that the victim was "just some MIT guy," and that "[prosecutors] can't make [McHugh] pay with his whole life." One Globe writer who mined East Cambridge for sympathy concluded: "When reporters asked questions, neighborhood residents could only think of their own."

Cambridge Mayor Kenneth Reeves reacted diligently; he met with MIT and Rindge and Latin officials in the wake of Raustein's murder, and charged Cambridge high schools to put in motion their more than 20 established violence-prevention programs. On September 24 — which was coincidentally McHugh's 16th birthday — MIT held a vigil for Raustein on campus, where several Rindge and Latin kids joined college students in grieving.

A little more than one week later, on October 3, community relations crumbled right inside Cambridge City Hall.

Reeves invited a mix of 18 MIT and Rindge and Latin students to discuss the underlying tension between high-school and college kids in Cambridge. Townies approached the event defensively; in the press their classmates had been blasted, and some were simply unwilling to smile for the cameras. The Raustein murder was national news at this point, and the New York Times was on hand to report the failed attempt at unity: "Most people I know don't feel any connection to what your lives are like," one Rindge and Latin student was quoted telling the nearby crowd of co-eds.

On October 13, Donovan, Velez, and McHugh were indicted by a Middlesex County grand jury, the two former for murder and armed robbery, and the latter for murder only because of his juvenile status.


THE TRIAL

Before he was sentenced at 18 years old, Donovan came of age in the shadow of Middlesex Superior Court. His East Cambridge stomping ground — about one square mile of modest boxy houses that resemble massive Tetris pieces from above — was the type of neighborhood where schoolyard scuffles were regular occurrences. Donovan lived the life of an average semi-troublesome teen; he hung around local parks, played basketball, dated girls, and often drank beers and smoked pot on weekends. But while Donovan acted immature, and even tough at times — he was once arrested for trespassing when he was 15 — it would have been a stretch to imagine him spending his 18th birthday overlooking East Cambridge from a courthouse holding cell, awaiting trial in connection with the senseless slaying of an MIT student.

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