WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — A bench trial is underway for the suspect in a nearly decade-old murder case out of Warwick.
Michael Soares appeared in court Wednesday and admitted to attacking and killing John “Jack” Fay in 2013, though he claims he did so “to save himself.” He’s pleading not guilty by reason of insanity.
Fay’s murder went unsolved for several years until DNA evidence linked Soares to the crime.
Here’s a timeline of how the case developed:
The 66-year-old Fay, a Vietnam veteran and retired postal worker, went for a run in Warwick City Park on May 16 when he was attacked. His body was found the next day stuffed inside a barrel. It was believed he was bludgeoned to death with a sledgehammer found nearby.
Police released photos of the sledgehammer they found near the scene of the crime. They said the two-and-a-half-pound sledge had a custom-made handle.
Michael A. Soares, 33, is charged with first-degree murder. Police said his DNA wasn’t in the system when the samples were first tested, but his cousin’s use of a DNA testing service allowed them to find a match.
“This arrest was the culmination of years of effort covering hundreds of leads by our Detective Division. Throughout the past five-plus years, the Warwick Police Department has remained committed to finding Jack’s killer,” Warwick Police Chief Rick Rathbun said at the time.
Soares is denied bail after he was deemed a flight risk. Prosecutors told the judge that he tried to board a flight to Pakistan two days after Fay’s murder, but the TSA prevented him from traveling because he was acting unusual.
Soares’ bench trial is held. A psychiatrist testified that he is mentally unwell and only attacked Fay because he believed he was in danger.
After closing arguments were delivered on Jan. 6, the judge said he would announce his verdict three weeks later on Jan. 27.
The judge found Soares guilty of first-degree murder, explaining that the defense failed to prove there was a relationship between his mental state and the crime.
Soares is scheduled to be sentenced in March. His lawyer said he plans to appeal for a new trial.