Rhode Island Man in Court with Hope of Exoneration of Murder Conviction
In 1982, 22-year-old Doreen C. Picard of Rhode Island was found strangled and beaten. Police said that Raymond Tempest, Jr. was the killer, and in 1992 he was convicted and sentenced to 85 years in prison. Now, more than 20 years since he was sentenced, Tempest is in court, striving to prove his innocence.
A story in the
says that according to prosecutors, Tempest killed Picard in 1982 after she saw him beating her landlord, Susan M. Laferte, in Laferte’s cellar. Medical examiners said that Picard’s clutched hands held hair that she’d pulled from someone’s head. At Tempest’s trial in 1992—it took police 10 years to build a case against him—that hair was said to have belonged to Tempest. That evidence was used to help convict Tempest of a crime for which he has now served nearly 22 years.
But Tempest and his lawyers claim that he is innocent and that they have the evidence to prove it. Earlier this week, lawyers from the New England Innocence Project argued that DNA testing reveals that the hairs found in Picard’s hands do not belong to Tempest, but to another person. In addition, lawyers said that 30 pieces of evidence, including Picard’s fingernails, have been tested for DNA. None of the results point to Tempest as the source.
Tempest’s attorneys said, according to the
, that in addition to the DNA results, other factors worked to get Tempest wrongfully convicted, including law enforcement withholding evidence that could have helped him and police knowingly lying during testimonies at trial.
Assistant Attorney General Christopher Bush said that the DNA results do not prove that Tempest didn’t kill Picard. He claims that only six out of 36 individual hairs were tested and that only three of those yielded a DNA profile for analysis. Bush also argued that issues raised around the credibility of witnesses were addressed sufficiently in 1992 at Tempest’s trial and that original witnesses who have now been accused of perjury have since died.
Tempests attorneys will present their first of 18 witnesses on Thursday.
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