PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The jury in the murder trial of Michael Patino returned a guilty verdict Wednesday afternoon.
The panel found Patino guilty of second-degree murder in the 2009 death of 6-year-old Marco Nieves, his girlfriend’s son. He was acquitted of first-degree murder in the case.
“With a child of that age and the manner of death, it was very difficult for many members of our department. So that’s why today we’re relieved,” Colonel Michael Winquist of the Cranston Police Department said.
During the trial, the state showed the panel text messages between Patino and Nieves’ mother, in which he told her he punched the boy because the kindergartener needed to act more like a man.
Years ago, Judge Judith Savage, who did not proceed over the recent trial, excluded the text message evidence.
According to Winquist — who was not in charge then — the ruling was unwarranted.
“The U.S. Supreme Court wouldn’t even hear the case. The Rhode Island Supreme Court overturned her decision. We’re happy with that decision. We feel that’s it the appropriate decision — that evidence was important and we’re glad it was allowed in,” he said.
After the fact, Nieves’ biological father declined to comment on the verdict.
Deliberations began at 2 p.m. Tuesday, after prosecutors made their final pitch to jurors – saying Nieves’ death was no accident.
They said Patino used the boy as a punching bag and one of those blows punctured the 6-year-old’s bowel, causing his death.
During closing arguments, the defense took aim at Nieves’ mother. Lawyers said Marco died because Trisha Oliver failed to take him to the hospital for some 15 hours, even as the boy vomited and lost consciousness.
During trial, a former medical examiner testified Marco’s injuries would have been survivable if treated promptly. However, lawyers claimed Oliver was more concerned with obtaining marijuana.
During deliberations Tuesday, jurors sent the judge a note asking for re-instructed on the definition of premeditation.