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CriminalCaseSummaries

 
Supreme Court

Criminal Case Summaries 2012

 

2012-362   State v. John Whiting                                                       (full briefing)

 

The defendant appeals from a Superior Court judgment of conviction for felony larceny and criminal solicitation.  The defendant argues that the larceny charge should have been amended to a misdemeanor and the solicitation charge should have been dismissed, in light of an amendment to the larceny statute increasing the felony threshold. 

 

2012-83    State v. Darnell Hie                                                          (show cause)

 

The defendant appeals from a conviction of two counts of second degree child molestation.  The defendant contends that the trial judge erred in refusing to grant a mistrial and in denying his motion for a new trial.  

 

2012-358   Roger Lamoureux v. State                                              (show cause)

 

Before the Court is applicant’s appeal from a 2005 Superior Court dismissal of his application for postconviction relief following a conviction by a jury in 1990 on one count of first-degree sexual assault.  In his petition, brought in 2001, applicant claimed that his trial attorneys were ineffective and that the trial justice erred on several occasions during trial. 


2012-227   Ricardo Ramirez v. State                                               (show cause)

 

This case is before the Court on appeal by the petitioner from the denial of his application for postconviction relief.  On appeal, petitioner argues that the hearing justice erred:  (1) in failing to make findings of fact pursuant to this Court’s mandate in Shatney v. State, 755 A.2d 130 (R.I. 2000) (per curiam); (2) in failing to allow petitioner to be heard on the merits of his application before allowing the appointed attorney to withdraw; and (3) in declining to consider petitioner’s Rule 35 motion to reduce sentence.


2012-341   State v. John Amaral                                                      (show cause)

 

The Attorney General appeals in this case, seeking to reverse a Superior Court order dismissing a criminal information against the defendant, who was charged with engaging in sexual contact with a 17-year-old male, by force or coercion, while on the bike path in East Providence.  The motion justice ruled that while defendant’s physical contact with the victim—by touching, with his hand, the victim’s penis through the outside of his shorts—may have been unwelcome and deplorable, defendant’s actions do not amount to a second-degree sexual assault.

 

2012-244  State v. Thomas Matthews                                     (full briefing)

 

The defendant Thomas Matthews appeals from a judgment of conviction and commitment for disorderly conduct in violation of Rhode Island General Laws § 11-45-1 for which he was sentenced to six months, 30 days to serve, five months suspended, with five months’ probation, mental health and alcohol counseling.  He challenges the District Court criminal complaint as unconstitutionally vague based on an inconsistency between a description of the charge (which tracked language in § 11-45-1(a)(1)) and the section of the statute under which he was charged (§ 11-45-1(a)(3)). He asserts that he was not adequately informed of the offense in violation of article 1, section 10 of the Rhode Island Constitution and the due process clause of article 14 of the amendments to the United States Constitution and contends this Court should reverse the conviction and dismiss the complaint.  He also challenges the legal sufficiency of the evidence and argues that his conduct did not support a conviction under either subsection of the disorderly conduct statute.

 

2012-244  State v. Antonio Whitfield                                          (show cause)

 

The defendant, Antonio Whitfield, was found guilty of two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon in violation of Rhode Island General Laws § 11-5-2 (a beer bottle and a shod foot), and one count of simple assault in violation of § 11-5-3. He argues the trial justice abused his discretion under Rule 609(b) of the Rhode Island Rules of Evidence by allowing the state to impeach him with evidence of his prior convictions, and he argues it was reversible error to deny his motion to pass after the prosecutor vouched for the credibility of two witnesses.

 


2012-219  State v. Thomas Mercurio                                         (show cause)

 

The defendant appeals from a judgment of conviction for resisting arrest after a jury trial.  On appeal he asserts that the trial justice erroneously denied his motion in limine to exclude his prior convictions from 1987 and 1982, and erroneously allowed the state to impeach his testimony by confronting him with the fact that his prior convictions for assault were upon police officers.


2012-216   Robert Chiellini v. State                                            (show cause)

 

This is an appeal from the denial of an application for postconviction relief. The applicant contends he was deprived of his constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel because his attorney at a bail hearing in 1995 failed to inform him of a plea offer by the state. The state contends that the record does not support his contention that such a plea offer was made.

 

2012-315 Kimberly S. Phelps v. Gregory Hebert               (show cause) 

 

The plaintiffs appeal from an order granting summary judgment in favor of the defendants Leo R. Pelletier and Susan Pelletier.  The plaintiffs argue that the hearing judge erred in deciding that the Pelletiers did not owe a duty of care to plaintiff Kimberly Phelps when she was killed while riding as a passenger on an all-terrain vehicle that had been driven by a person who attended a party at the Pelletiers’ residence the night of the accident.


2012-323 Narragansett Indian Tribe v. State                  (show cause)
           
The state cross-appeals from the trial judge’s ruling that the plaintiff had standing in this declaratory judgment action involving gambling legislation.  The state contends that the plaintiff could not demonstrate injury in fact.  The state also contends that the trial judge erred in applying the public interest exception for standing in this case.     
 

2012-330 City of Pawtucket v. Nichalas LaPrade            (full briefing) 

 

The petitioner filed a petition for a writ of certiorari seeking review of a Superior Court judgment ruling that a Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights (LEOBOR) hearing committee did not abuse its discretion in denying the petitioner’s request for a continuance and in refusing to take judicial notice of respondent’s District Court conviction.  The petitioner contends that the LEOBOR hearing committee abused its discretion in not continuing the hearing by one day.  The petitioner asserts that the committee’s refusal to continue the case resulted in the petitioner being unable to prove its disciplinary action against the respondent.  The petitioner further argues that the hearing committee abused its discretion in not taking judicial notice of the respondent’s conviction. 


2012-238   State v. Rafael Ferrer                                     (show cause)

 

The defendant appeals from a judgment of conviction for one count of carrying a firearm without a license and one count of possessing a firearm by a person previously convicted of a crime of violence.  The defendant contends that the trial judge erred in denying his motion for judgment of acquittal.  The defendant asserts that the evidence was not sufficient to prove that he possessed the firearm that was found under the Iway bridge.  The defendant also contends that the trial judge improperly restricted his counsel’s closing argument at trial. 

 

2012-166   State v. Robert DeCarlo                               (full briefing)

 

The state petitioned for a writ of certiorari after the trial justice dismissed the underlying indictment of the defendant, a Providence police officer, who, subsequent to a police chase, was alleged to have committed felony assault and simple assault upon a police suspect.  Defendant asserted that the state’s conduct during its closing argument was so egregious as to goad the defendant into moving for a mistrial, and thus, principles of double jeopardy prevented a retrial.  The state now claims that the trial justice erred in dismissing the indictment.


2012-186   State v. Ilda Vaz                                            (show cause)
 
The defendant appeals from her conviction on one count of breaking and entering and one count of simple assault.  According to defendant, the trial justice committed reversible error when he denied her request for a defense-of-others jury instruction as it related to the breaking and entering charge.  Defendant asserts that she was entitled to an instruction for defense-of-others similar to the one that was adopted by this Court in State v. Beeley, 653 A.2d 722 (R.I. 1995).


2012-206   State v. Luis Barrios           (show cause)
 
The defendant appeals from a conviction on two counts of second-degree sexual assault after a trial at which defendant argued mistaken identity.  Defendant contends on appeal that the trial justice erred in denying his motion for a new trial because reasonable minds could not differ regarding the evidence and the reasonable inferences drawn therefrom, and because there is not proof beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant was the assailant.  Defendant points to complainant’s alcohol consumption prior to the assault and identification of defendant, and contends that he is similar in appearance to his friend, who he alleges was present at the time and place where the assault occurred.   


2012-12  State v. Jethro Rolle      (show cause)

The defendant appeals from the denial of his motion to dismiss based on double jeopardy after a mistrial was declared in his prosecution for second degree sexual assault.  The defendant argues that the prosecutor goaded the defendant into moving for a mistrial when he intentionally failed to produce a witness’s revised statement.  He argues that under these circumstances a retrial is barred under double jeopardy.   


2012-173  State v. Gabriel Santiago     (show cause)

The defendant appeals from a conviction of second degree child molestation.  The defendant contends that the state violated Rule 16 when it elicited testimony from the complaining witness that was contrary to what the state provided in supplemental discovery.


2012-200    State v. Jeffrey Allston     (show cause)

The defendant appeals pro se from the denial of his motion to reduce sentence.  The defendant contends that the Superior Court judge failed to grant him a hearing on his motion. 

 

2012-174  State v. Anthony Perkins                                            (show cause)

 

Applicant pleaded nolo contendere in Superior Court to two counts of second-degree child molestation sexual assault.  Applicant later sought postconviction relief on the ground that his privately-retained trial attorney had erroneously advised him that if he did not plead to the charges, he would be sent to jail for violating the terms of his parole in a prior robbery conviction.  In fact, applicant could not have been in violation of the terms of his parole, because the alleged molestation occurred prior to the robbery conviction.  The Superior Court denied the application for postconviction relief and applicant took the present appeal, wherein he contends that the court erred in determining that he had failed to prove inadequate assistance of counsel.


2012-131  State v. Harold Drew                                                    (show cause)

 

Defendant appeals from the denial of his motion for new trial after conviction on one count of first-degree murder, one count of discharging a firearm while committing a crime of violence, and three counts of breaking and entering a dwelling.  Defendant argues that the trial justice erred in denying his motion for new trial based on a claim of newly discovered evidence, contending that a new trial is warranted because the state failed to disclose the full extent of the rewards given for the cooperation of the primary witness against defendant.


2012-251  Town of Little Compton v. David Simmons                 (show cause)

 

Defendant crashed his car in Little Compton and left the scene on foot, to be discovered a short while later by Little Compton police a short distance over the town line in Tiverton.  The officers transported defendant back to the scene in Little Compton.  After failing field sobriety tests and refusing medical treatment in Little Compton, the defendant was arrested and charged by the Little Compton police with driving under the influence.  The charge was subsequently dismissed by the District Court after a motion by the defendant asserting that the Little Compton police lacked jurisdiction to arrest him in Tiverton.  This Court granted the state’s petition for a writ of certiorari seeking review of the District Court order of dismissal.   


2012-105   State v. Steven Morris                                                  (full briefing)

 

The state appeals from a Superior Court order granting the defendant’s motion to suppress evidence.  The state contends that the hearing justice erred in deciding that evidence stemming from an arrest with probable cause was subject to the exclusionary rule because it happened outside the jurisdiction of the arresting officers.


2012-192    State. v. Michael Rocchio                                            (show cause)

 

The defendant appeals from a Superior Court order denying his motion to withdraw his plea of nolo contendere. The defendant contends that due to circumstances surrounding the plea, the trial justice abused his discretion in not allowing the defendant to withdraw his nolo contendere plea.

 

 

 

2012-82  State v. Javier Merida                                                        (show cause)

 

The applicant appeals from the denial of his application for postconviction relief.  The applicant argues that the Superior Court judge erred in denying his claims of ineffective assistance of counsel.  The applicant argues that his trial counsel in the underlying sexual molestation trial failed to cross-examine key witnesses on the complaining witness’s motive to lie; failed to call a medical witness; prevented him from testifying during the trial; and failed to object to the order of testimony at trial. 

 

 

2012-129  Alexander Rose v. State                                                  (full briefing)

 

The petitioner appeals from the denial of his application for postconviction relief and petition for habeas corpus.  The petitioner argues that the state erred in calculating the expiration date for his probation.  The petitioner contends that his probation period began to run once he was released from incarceration due to credit for time served awaiting trial, good time credits, and parole.

 

 

2012-5   State v. Christopher Thornton                                               (show cause)

The defendant appeals pro se from the denial of several postconviction motions (including a motion for a new trial), challenging on several counts his 1998 conviction stemming from a stand-off with police in June 1996.  Before this Court, defendant asserts that the trial justice erred when he denied defendant’s claim that the state deliberately failed to disclose victim impact statements in violation of Rule 16 of the Superior Court Rules of Criminal Procedure.  Defendant asserts also that the felony domestic assault count of his conviction is a lesser-included offense to the felony domestic assault with a dangerous weapon count, and therefore the two counts merged.  The state, on the other hand, contends that defendant’s claims are barred by the doctrine of res judicata and that, notwithstanding, the trial justice did not err in denying defendant’s request for a new trial.     

 

  
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