Murder conviction vacated man in jail for 23 years: Raymond Tempest
By Katie Mulvaney, July 13th 2015
A Superior Court judge on Monday agreed to vacate Raymond D. “Beaver” Tempest’s conviction for the 1982 murder of Doreen C. Picard in Woonsocket.
Judge Daniel A. Procaccini declined to release Tempest on bail. The bail hearing will be Aug. 4.
Judge Daniel A. Procaccini’s ruling in a jam-packed courtroom Monday came after a weeks’ long post-conviction hearing earlier this year in which lawyers for Tempest, 62, argued, among other things, that DNA evidence showed that someone else killed the 22-year-old. A DNA analysis found that hair clutched in Picard’s hand and blood droplets at the murder scene did not match Tempest’s profile. Tempest accused Woonsocket police of coaching and coercing witnesses to implicate him at trial.
The courtroom rustled after Monday’s decision. Tempest gave a slight smile, while his family cried. The parents of the murder victim, Ronald and Simone Picard, frowned in reaction.
Tempest approached the New England Innocence Project about a decade ago to help him seek DNA testing in an effort to clear his name. Procaccini in 2004 ordered DNA testing, marking the first time a judge in Rhode Island had mandated DNA testing as part of a defendant’s attempt to overturn a conviction.
Tempest was convicted in 1992 of second-degree murder in Picard’s death. Prosecutors accused Tempest of strangling Picard with her sweater and then pummeling her with a pipe after she found him beating her landlord, Susan M. Laferte, in the basement of Laferte’s house in Woonsocket. They said he had boasted to friends, many of them drug users, that he would “slide” from prosecution because his father was Providence County high sheriff and his brother a Woonsocket detective. He was sentenced to serve 85 years in prison.
In March, Tempest repeatedly denied killing Picard in the Woonsocket neighborhood in which he grew up. Tempest testified that he failed for years to tell the police that he’d been drinking at a local café and smoking pot with friends around 3 p.m., Feb. 19, 1982 — the time of the murder — due to concerns about embarrassing his father, Providence County high sheriff Raymond Tempest Sr., and his brother Woonsocket Lt. Gordon Tempest. It never dawned on him that he might be implicated in Picard’s murder.
“I never thought in my wildest dreams I’d be charged with murder … I could never take the life of a young lady,” Tempest said under cross-examination by Assistant Attorney General J. Patrick Youngs.
Even after being indicted for murder in 1991, “you still didn’t tell your lawyer where you were at the time of the murder?” Youngs asked. “In my mind, I was innocent, innocent of this,” Tempest said.
This article originally appeared on the July 13th edition of the Providence Journal’s website. To view it entirely, click here.