PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Even though he won the right to a new trial after spending more than 23 years in prison for murder, Raymond “Beaver” Tempest agreed to take a plea deal to end the case on Monday.
Tempest – who was convicted in 1992 of the 1982 killing of 22-year-old Doreen Picard – agreed to take what’s known as an Alford plea, which means he maintains his innocence, but admits that the prosecution had enough evidence to lead to a guilty verdict.
A judge sentences Tempest to time served, meaning his home confinement has come to an end and 64-year-old Tempest is once again a free man.
A Superior Court judge vacated Tempest’s conviction in 2015 after finding police and prosecutors didn’t disclose evidence and suppressed details about changed witness statements.
Prosecutor’s appealed the Superior Court ruling. However, in July 2016 the Rhode Island Supreme Court upheld the lower court’s ruling and ordered a new trial. Prosecutors say they were prepared to go to trial early in 2018.
Tempest’s lawyer, Michael Kendall, said he believes Tempest is innocent and would have been found not guilty had the case gone to trial, but Tempest’s family urged him to take the plea deal and end their legal ordeal.
Attorney General Peter Kilmartin said they have no doubt Tempest would have been convicted again.
The Rhode Island Attorney General’s office reiterated the facts of Picard’s death in a statement Monday that Picard was beaten to death with a steel pipe in the basement of her triple-decker on Providence Street in Woonsocket, and that they would have proven once again that Tempest was guilty of her murder.
The office also released a statement by Christine Sawicki, Doreen’s sister, on behalf of the victim’s family, describing happy memories of the lives of the two girls, their brother, and their mother and father and the wrenching experience of dealing with Doreen’s death. “It took cowardice and blatant disregard for life when a pipe was repeatedly used on the head of a woman weighing approximately 120 pounds. Make no mistake: While we are within a court of man today, this blatant disregard for human life is not only judged by man, it is ultimately judged by our God…”
“However, this savage, brutal and human circumstance cannot and will never extinguish Doreen’s light.”