July 6: Lapointe Habeas hearing

Tomorrow, the Richard Lapointe Habeas hearing will resume for three more days in the Rockville Superior Court.

Lapointe was convicted for the 1987 murder of Mrs. Bernice Martin, his then-wife’s 88-year-old grandmother. He was sentenced to life without parole.

After the Connecticut Supreme Court upheld his conviction, his lawyer filed a petition for a writ of Habeas Corpus that, if granted, would result in a new trial. The petition was denied in 2000.

A new team of lawyers filed yet another Habeas petition, claiming that Richard’s lawyer in the first Habeas hearing provided ineffective assistance in two crucial instances. The trial lawyer failed to allege that the state had suppressed exculpatory evidence regarding the time line of the fire in Martin’s apartment and the trial lawyer failed to use available evidence to establish the unreliability or better: fabrication of three so called confessions that he signed during the course of a 9½-hour interrogation without legal assistance on July 4, 1989.

Police interrogations have had disastrous results in the case of Lapointe, Fox, and many more. Rick Green writes: “Judge John J. Nazzaro must decide whether Lapointe — convicted in 1992 of the violent murder of his wife’s 88-year-old grandmother — deserves a new trial. Lapointe has spent years unsuccessfully challenging the verdict and this is viewed as a last shot for the 64-year-old man.

Lawyers are making a strong case that Lapointe deserves a new trial because the state withheld perhaps crucial evidence that supports his alibi that he was at home when Bernice Martin was murdered. Casteliero is also reviving troubling questions about the long interogation of Lapointe, who has an I.Q. of 80, and another secretly-recorded interview of Lapointe’s ex-wife, who is also disabled.

With Nazzaro listening intently during the first week of the hearing in May, Casteliero has outlined additional evidence that raises doubt: Lapointe’s confession does not match certain facts in the case, such as the location and manner of Bernice Martin’s murder, mysterious gloves found at the scene and pubic hair that doesn’t match Lapointe’s DNA that was found on the victim’s clothing.”

Donald Connery, another long time supporter of Richard, wrote an article for the Hartford Courant. It is worth reading especially this part:

“… the forthrightness of retired Manchester police captain Joseph Brooks. His detectives lured Lapointe to headquarters on false pretenses on July 4, 1989, and got him to agree that he must be guilty. Brooks believed then, as did virtually everyone else in the law, that no one confesses to a crime he didn’t commit unless deranged or physically tortured..”

Even so, Brooks questioned the quality of the confessions and the absence of confirming evidence. Instead of arresting Lapointe that night, he let him go home. He would proceed only on an arrest warrant signed by a prosecutor and a judge. They did not share his misgivings, or order an expanded investigation, so Lapointe’s fate was sealed.

“Richard’s conviction has always troubled me,” Brooks told me recently. “I knew him around town as a simple, harmless dishwasher. The whole thing made no sense. In the last few years I have studied the old files and every case document I could find. My inescapable conclusion is that Richard Lapointe had nothing to do with the murder of Bernice Martin.”

Read the article here. We will be following the July hearings closely.