As reported in the Providence Journal, the Rhode Island Supreme Court today affirmed the lower court’s ruling vacating the 1992 murder conviction of Raymond Tempest, who served 24 years for the crime before being released on home confinement last year.
The court agreed with the trial court that the prosecution violated Tempest’s due process rights by failing to turn over statements by a critical witness which contradicted her earlier statements. There was no physical evidence connecting Tempest to the crime. The prosecution relied on four witnesses who claimed that Tempest confessed to him. The individuals were all vulnerable to police pressure, due to their backgrounds in drug trafficking, drug use or prostitution.
The case now returns to the trial court for Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin to decide whether or not to retry Tempest for the crime. Kilmartin was quoted by the Providence Journal as saying: “At this stage in the proceedings, we will evaluate the existing evidence and prepare for the next hearing date before the Superior Court.”
The Innocence Project assisted the legal team, which includes Michael Kendall, Kate Dyson and Matthew Turnell of White & Case; Lauren E. Jones of Jones Associates; and Betty Anne Waters, the inspiration for the movie Conviction, which was based on her extraordinary efforts to exonerate her brother Kenny Waters for a murder DNA eventually proved he didn’t commit.