More than two decades after a Rhode Island man was found guilty of murder, he is seeking to overturn his conviction based on DNA evidence that points toward his innocence.
Raymond D. “Beaver” Tempest, Jr., was convicted in 1992 of beating and strangling 22-year-old Doreen C. Picard in the city of Woonsocket a decade earlier, but according to his attorneys at the New England Innocence Project, recent DNA testing proves that someone else committed the murder.
reported that Tempest’s legal team filed a 70-plus page motion Monday in Superior Court asking that his conviction be vacated on grounds that DNA testing revealed that hair clutched in Picard’s hand didn’t belong to Tempest and that the prosecution’s key witness, Ronald Vaz, fabricated his accounts of Tempest’s alleged confessions.
At trial, his lawyer argued there was no physical evidence linking Tempest to the crime and questioned the credibility of several witnesses, but Tempest was convicted anyway.
Tempest’s conviction was upheld in 1995 and about a decade after that, he sought help from the New England Innocence Project to get DNA testing. When testing was ordered in 2004, it marked the first time a judge in Rhode Island had mandated DNA testing as part of a defendant’s attempt to overturn a conviction.
In the motion filed this week, Tempest’s attorneys accused the investigators of pressuring and coaching witnesses, whom may have been vulnerable to coercion because they were alleged drug users and criminals.
reports that Tempest’s attorneys wrote in the motion: “The state’s case against Tempest was based on the testimony of drug addicts and criminals. . . . These witnesses implicated Tempest years after the crime, and their allegations evolved as the state’s case against Tempest developed.”