A Rhode Island man who has spent 23 years behind bars after being convicted of murder in the 1982 bludgeoning of a 22-year-old woman could walk free on Tuesday after a state court in July overturned his conviction, a judge ruled on Friday.
The state court threw out the 1992 conviction of Raymond Tempest, 62, on second-degree murder charges, saying last month that evidence favourable to his case had been suppressed by prosecutors at trial.
Rhode Island’s attorney general, Peter Kilmartin, has vowed to appeal that decision to the state supreme court. Associate Justice Daniel Procaccini, who set a $US100,000 bail on Friday, ruled that Tempest’s release would be dependent on the outcome of that appeal.
“The judge has granted home confinement and conditions of release, and we’re hoping that means he’ll be out Tuesday,” Michael Kendall, one of Tempest’s lawyers, said after Friday’s hearing. “But we won’t know that for certain until after the Supreme Court hearing.”
The victim, Doreen Picard, was found beaten to death, apparently by a lead pipe, in Woonsocket in 1982. Her body was found next to that of her landlady, who had been beaten unconscious and could not identify the attacker due to memory loss resulting from her head injuries.
Tempest was a suspect from the start, but was not charged until 10 years after the killing. Critics accused Woonsocket police of dragging their feet because Tempest had several close relatives working in law enforcement, including his father, Raymond Tempest Sr., who at the time served as Providence County sheriff.
Tempest was sentenced to 85 years in prison. Gordon Tempest, the suspect’s brother and a Woonsocket police detective, was eventually convicted of perjury, with prosecutors charging he had destroyed evidence.
Raymond Tempest’s lawyers worked on his case for no fee as members of the New England Innocence Project, part of a national network that works to free wrongly convicted prisoners.
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