The Connecticut Appellate Court ordered a new trial for Richard Lapointe. From the Hartford Courant: “In a stunning decision, the state Appellate Court Monday ordered a new trial for Richard Lapointe, a mentally disabled dishwasher convicted of a murder a quarter century ago, concluding that state prosecutors wrongly withheld a police report that tends to support Lapointe’s alibi defense.
“We cannot say that (Lapointe) is factually innocent and did not commit the crimes for which he was convicted,” the decision said. “However, we do conclude that there is a reasonable probability that the result of his criminal trial would have been different had” the police report been disclosed to Lapointe’s lawyers at his trial.
The appellate decision, written by Judges Bethany J. Alvord, Stuart D. Bear and Joseph H. Pellegrino, said the failure of police and prosecutors to provide Lapointe with a police report on the duration of a fire set when the victim was killed “deprived him of a fair trial.” The court also concluded that Lapointe’s defense was hurt further by the failure of one his lawyers to press the fire report issue during an earlier habeas corpus hearing.
Accordingly, we reverse in part the judgment of the habeas court and order a new trial,” the decision, written by Alvord, said.”
This is fantastic news, the kind we all have waited for. If you have followed Richard’s case here on DCC than you know I doubt this man is responsible for the murder of Bernice Martin. Now we finally get a new day in court, a new chance to present ALL the evidence and ALL the reports.
In a ruling last April, Superior Court Judge John J. Nazzaro rejected the second habeas corpus petition. Nazzaro found there was no proof that DNA samples found in Martin’s apartment, which could not be linked to Richard, belonged to the killer, and that the evidence did not exonerate Richard or prove his innocence.
The court said it ordered a new trial because the state didn’t disclose an expert opinion about the burn time of the fire in Martin’s apartment that potentially supported Richard’s alibi.
Judge Bethany Alford wrote in the 3-0 ruling that the state failing to disclose the information to the defense “affected the overall fairness of the trial and was so unfair as to undermine our confidence in the jury’s verdict.”
Judge Whitehead? I hope that you will come to the same conclusions as Judges Bethany J. Alvord, Stuart D. Bear and Joseph H. Pellegrino in the case of William Thomas Zeigler. Withheld evidence would certainly have made a difference, Judge. Not disclosing evidence undermines anyone’s faith in the system and in the decisions reached. And you know exactly which pieces of evidence I’m talking about.