In 1992, Richard A. Lapointe was sentenced to life plus 60 years for the 1987 rape-murder of Mrs. Bernice Martin who was found stabbed, raped, and strangled in her Manchester, Connecticut apartment that was set on fire.
Lapointe has Dandy walker Syndrome, a congenital brain malformation that made him gullible and vulnerable to giving a false confession. And he did.
This case features
- police misconduct: illegal wire taps
- false confessions: Lapointe gave four confessions and none matched the crime scene. He was questioned for nine and a half hours without the presence of a guardian
- a disputed timeline, and
- forensic arson detection
A new trial was ordered for him in October 2012. On March 31, 2015, the Connecticut Supreme Court ordered a retrial. On April 10, 2015, Superior Court Judge Joan Alexander ordered Lapointe be released on $250,000 security bond. Lapointe stayed at an undisclosed location. On Oct 2, 2015, on International Wrongful Conviction Day, Lapointe was set free. The judge ruled that he cannot be retried.
Lapointe wants to be compensated for all the years he spent in prison. From the Hartford Courant: “The compensation battle is playing out before the state claims commissioner, with Lapointe’s lawyers saying DNA testing exonerated him and state lawyers arguing it did not.” I think key is that the state never proved its charges against this man.
Connecticut’s state law does allow for compensations in cases of wrongful convictions if: the charges were dismissed because the defendant was innocent or because of wrongdoing by the authorities that resulted in the defendant’s conviction and prison sentence. I think it applies.
“Prosecutor David Zagaja said that while the “touch DNA” tests did not show evidence of Lapointe’s presence at the crime scene, that doesn’t mean he wasn’t there.” Zagaja is right but as the victim was family, Lapointe’s touch DNA is likely to show up in her apartment. You still need to tie him to Martin’s rape-murder, not just to the location.
“Zagaja said the tests turned up several different partial profiles, making it appear that the crime scene was contaminated by several people, likely first responders, forensic experts and other officials.” This has happened in several miscarriages of justice cases. It is therefore all the more important that the state proves beyond any doubt that Lapointe is guilty. If they cannot due to contamination, they cannot prove their charges, and the defendant walks.
“It’s not clear when Commissioner Christy Scott will rule, and any approval of a payout must be approved by the state legislature.”
Karen Lapointe, Richard’s ex-wife, stands by the statements she gave then and by her ex-husband’s innocence. She always stated that Richard was home with her and their son that evening. The statements she gave were taped, and on those tapes, you can hear Karen being threatened and intimidated by police. On the tape, Karen is accused of withholding information and sounds increasingly distressed as she cries that she is not withholding any evidence. Det. Morrissey can be heard claiming that “the case has come to a conclusion” and that “Lapointe had confessed.”
The real killer
Whoever raped and murdered Mrs. Martin was a raging, strong, and violent man. Lapointe is known for not being violent and not strong at all.
Whoever committed the crime set fire to places he touched. Lapointe is clumsy and not very intelligent. Would he have had the sense to remember all the places he touched?
To be continued.