PROVIDENCE, R.I. (Reuters) - A Rhode Island man imprisoned for 23 years for murder will be freed this week as justices consider a lower court’s decision to overturn his conviction.
Raymond “Beaver” Tempest will be released to home confinement while the state Supreme Court considers his case, the court ruled on Tuesday. Bail was set at $100,000.
“We’re delighted with the Supreme Court’s ruling,” said Michael Kendall, Tempest’s lawyer. “Raymond is only asking for his day in court with all the evidence presented to the jury.”
Tempest, now 62, was convicted in 1992 of the murder of 22-year-old Doreen Picard 10 years earlier and was sentenced to 85 years in prison.
The state court overturned Tempest’s conviction earlier this year after lawyers presented new evidence favorable to his case that they said had been suppressed at trial. Included was evidence that hair clutched in Picard’s hand did not belong to Tempest.
State prosecutors appealed that decision to the state Supreme Court, which agreed to hear oral arguments. Those arguments will be presented in March.
Picard was found bludgeoned to death in the basement laundry room of her Woonsocket apartment building, laying beside her landlady, who had been beaten unconscious.
Tempest was a suspect from the start but was not charged until 10 years after the killing. Critics accused Woonsocket police of delaying because Tempest had several close relatives working in law enforcement, including his father, Raymond Tempest Sr., who was then Providence County high sheriff.
Gordon Tempest, the suspect’s brother and a Woonsocket police detective, was eventually convicted of perjury, with prosecutors charging he had destroyed evidence.
Tempest’s lawyers worked for no fee as members of the New England Innocence Project, part of a national network that seeks to free prison inmates who claim they were wrongly convicted.
Editing by Richard Valdmanis and Bill Trott