Dean Kapsalis Convicted of Racially Motivated Murder of Henry Tapia

BELMONT - Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan and Belmont Chief of Police James MacIsaac announced today that Dean Kapsalis, 56, of Hudson was convicted of shouting a racial insult at Henry Tapia, a 34-year-old man of color, before hitting him with a Dodge Dakota truck, running him over and killing him in Belmont on a residential street in the late afternoon in January, 2021.  Mr. Kapsalis was convicted of second degree murder, violation of constitutional rights causing serious bodily injury, assault and battery by means of dangerous weapon (motor vehicle) causing serious bodily injury, and leaving the scene after causing injury.

“The murder of Henry Tapia is a senseless tragedy fueled by hate and anger. The fact that some of the last words Henry Tapia heard were a horrific racial insult meant to intimidate and threaten him based on the color of his skin is something we cannot tolerate. What is significant about today’s verdict is that when we have incidents in Middlesex County motivated by bigotry and racism, that hatred will not be treated as a background fact. It will be charged and prosecuted separately.  Although nothing that happens in Court can return Mr. Tapia to his grieving family, today’s convictions send a strong signal that those who commit hate fueled violence in this county will be held fully accountable,” said District Attorney Ryan.

On January 19, 2021, around 4:22 p.m., Belmont Police received a 911 call reporting that a man had been struck by a car in the area of 39-45 Upland Road. Police immediately responded and located Mr. Tapia conscious but suffering from life-threatening injuries. First responders provided emergency assistance until Belmont Rescue arrived on the scene. Mr. Tapia was transported from the scene to Massachusetts General Hospital where he later died from his injuries.

The subsequent investigation revealed that Mr. Kapsalis and Mr. Tapia had been engaged in a verbal altercation in the roadway.  That argument wound down but as Mr. Tapia began to walk back toward his car, Mr. Kapsalis hurled a racial slur at him and then got into his Dodge Dakota pickup truck and drove it at Mr. Tapia, striking him and dragging him a short distance before Mr. Kapsalis fled the scene.  He later turned himself in to police. At trial, the defense argued that Mr. Tapia’s death was an accident. 

The prosecutors assigned to the case are Nicole Allain and Maren Schrader.  The victim witness advocate is Helena Clarke. Sentencing is set for June 27, 2023.

Over the last five years, incidents of hate and bias have become more prevalent in Massachusetts.  To interrupt this disturbing trend, the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office is working with members of the Office’s Anti-Hate, Anti-Bias Task Force to support education about violations of civil rights, and to encourage reporting of hateful acts and speech.  At the same time, the Office is aggressively working to confront racism at all levels by identifying and prosecuting offenders.

If you would like to report an incident of hate or bias you can do so on the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office website by filling out this form:

Learn more about the Office’s Racial Justice and Social Justice Initiatives here:

Watch the full press conference here: