WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — A grand jury investigation is underway to examine the mysterious death of Steven Velozo, a Little Compton man killed in October at a party attended by both current and former first responders.
Target 12 has learned multiple witnesses were at Kent County Courthouse this week to testify before a statewide grand jury, a secret investigatory preceding used to determine whether to bring criminal charges. R.I. Attorney General Peter Neronha’s office declined to comment on the existence of the grand jury.
The 47-year-old Velozo died unexpectedly in early October. Five months later, the Massachusetts Chief Medical Examiner’s Office released an autopsy showing the manner of death was ruled a homicide.
Nobody has been willing to talk publicly about what led up to Velozo’s death. But Target 12 has independently confirmed Velozo was attending a going-away party for his mother with both current and former police, firefighters and EMT workers.
At some point during the night, a fight broke out and subsequently Velozo was transported to St. Anne’s Hospital in Fall River where he was pronounced dead. In March, Little Compton Police Chief Scott Raynes said his department and the attorney general’s office were investigating the death.
“Currently, we are not releasing any information regarding the incident, as this is a pending matter and we do not want to jeopardize the investigation,” Raynes said in a statement, asking the public for patience.
The statewide grand jury process typically includes witnesses and potential suspects testifying before a group of their peers, along with a prosecutor who presents evidence and asks questions about what happened. People called to testify are summonsed by subpoena and aren’t allowed to have a lawyer in the room.
After everything is presented, the grand jury decides whether there’s enough probable cause to bring criminal charges against any individuals. If so, the person or people are indicted and charged, kicking off the judicial process that typically happens in open court where a defendant has the right to legal representation.
It’s unknown at this time how long the grand jury will examine Velozo’s death, or when a decision might be made. If the group decides against bringing charges, the decision is sometimes never made public.
Little Compton has seen only one other homicide since 1999, according to state police data reviewed by Target 12.
Eli Sherman (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a Target 12 investigative reporter for 12 News. Connect with him on Twitter and on Facebook.
Tim White contributed to this report.