Injustice Asserted By Jeffery Washington In Rhode Island
Injustice Asserted By Jeffery Washington In Rhode Island

This complaint asserts misconduct. It is not a complaint about the guilt or innocence of the complaining party.

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Complaint One

Mr. Washington is doing a sentence of life without the possibility of parole. His case has been reopened for over 5 years. This was a highly publicized case in which he was accused of tying up, beating and raping an elderly woman that was in a wheelchair. Mr. Washington asserts he worked for her and had a workshop in her home for over a decade. On the night in question he was so high on drugs and alcohol that he, for the most part, doesn't remember what happened. When Mr. Washington became conscious again, he was on top of her and heard the victim say the name of Christ Jesus and then she went limp. Mr. Washington ran out of the house. When Mr. Washington became aware of his charges he requested the death penalty. At trial the State's expert medical witness asserted that the sexual assault on the victim was a contributing cause of death. Mr. Washington asserts:

  • He was so intoxicated he couldn't think clearly and
  • He took the life of the victim accidentally and
  • It was enough to make him culpable for some degree of murder or manslaughter, but it is too much to make him culpable as one who deliberately, intentionally and maliciously set out to kill.

Mr. Washington asserts 5 years ago he found out the State's case was considerably exaggerated. State Medical Examiner testified that:

  • The victim's heart condition was such that she could have died at anytime.
  • Faint rub marks on the victim from rope were consistent with little or no resistance showing she was not severely tied.
  • Bruises on victim's shoulders were consistent with being held down during the sexual assault, but which could have been caused by such minimal force as being hit accidentally with a hairbrush. The force with which she was held was not sufficient to have fractured or bruised her ribs.
  • There were no head injuries and no injuries which suggested a life-threatening assault, no asphyxiation and no attempted strangulation. The genital hemorrhage was mild to moderate and there were no objective injuries which could have caused the death. [See related trial transcripts pages 192, 193, 222, 224, 228, 230, 233, 235, 236, 240, 242, 243, 244, 245, 258, 204, 205, 246, 345, 346410]

Mr. Washington asserts she was never raped and her death was due to a heart attack due to a pre-existing acute arteriosclerotic cardiovascular disease which he knew nothing about. He asserts Prosecutor Craven coupled with ineffective assistance of counsel resulted in crucial facts being hidden during the trial - namely his testimony and collaborating evidence of excessive alcohol and drug use the night of the crime. A judge who Mr. Washington asserts was outraged at the State's conduct reopened Mr. Washington's case. Since then he has had 7 Lawyers, 3 Prosecutors and 2 Judges. Each Lawyer is first shocked at the misconduct in the case and then finds a reason to step off the case.

In a legal brief for post conviction relief, Attorney Leo F. Manfred II asserts two issues:

1. Ineffective assistance of counsel [See explanation and discussion]

Mr. Washington's attorney at trial refused to allow him to testify in his own defense. [State v Teague, 953 F.2d 1525 (11th Cir. 1992). Mr. Washington did not waive his right to testify. No proper waiver was ever clearly determined by the trial court nor was any proper waiver ever put on the record. Unfortunately, Mr. Washington's original attorney is now deceased. There is no record that affirmatively shows that the defense counsel advised the defendant of his constitutional right to testify or the defendant knew of this right and personally and intelligently waived the right and made the choice not to testify.

2. His attorney refused to present the defense of diminished capacity because of his use of alcohol and drugs.

Defendant's attorney did not utilize a report from the State/FBI Lab showing test results supposedly done on the contents of a bucket in which the defendant urinated and defecated shortly prior to the incident on which he was tried. Mr. Washington asserts he has proof that both the state and his attorney had the information in hand at trial but made sure it never became part of the trial. The toxicology report on the contents of the bucket would have provided evidence to support the defense of diminished capacity due to the use of drugs and alcohol. The diminished capacity made him incapable of forming a specific intent upon which malice could be predicated. The defendant's attorney did not present this evidence of mitigating circumstances, which would justify the trial judge instruction to the jury of a lesser included offense of voluntary manslaughter. Mr. Washington asserts this was an error so serious as to show his counsel's performance was deficient and prejudicial to the defendant depriving him of a fair trial. If Mr. Washington had testified to consuming a significant quantity of drugs and alcohol immediately preceding the death of the victim, the trial judge would have been able to give the jury instructions as to murder as well as separate instructions. These separate instructions would be regarding diminished mental capacity sufficient to negate specific intent to kill which reduces murder to voluntary manslaughter. The diminished capacity defense could only be presented adequately through the testimony of Mr. Washington at his trial, but Mr. Washington asserts he was not allowed to testify.

Mr. Washington also asserts:

  • The court never let anyone take the stand from his family or friends regarding his character but they let the State put many people on the stand to make their case.
  • Racial bias in the form of an all white jury.
  • His jury was not sequestered and exposed to prejudicial news reporting
  • One appeal attorney stated the penalty in this case was not warranted and "it is a case which demonstrates what happens when the State is given a new weapon, ostensibly to be reserved for the worst of defendants, the worst of crimes, it becomes commonplace, one more bargaining chip to be played in the prosecution. The victim died of heart failure, apparently precipitated by the assault, but clearly directly caused by a pre-existing acute arteriosclerotic cardiovascular disease. [See Appeals] The attorney also states State's Medical Expert Sweeney's conclusion as to the manner of death was really based on two things. One, a legal concept and the other a factual conjecture. First she implied though she didn't clearly state that she considered a homicide any death which occurred during the commission of a criminal act. It is also asserted Dr. Sweeny attempted to do the jury's job by drawing an inference that the victim's heart failure was "caused" by the sexual assault. That conclusion was not a medical one, but a lay inferential one that invaded the fact finding province of the jury by taking evidentiary facts and totaling them up to a conclusion of homicide. [See State v Castore, 435 A2d 321, 326 (RI)]
  • The court exceeded its authority regarding RIGL 11-23-2. The court has no power to impose life without parole unless a unanimous jury finding of an aggravating factor is made. The court allowed submission of 2 possible aggravating circumstances, aggravated battery and torture. The jury only returned one - aggravated battery. The trial court, however, relied upon both in sentencing having decided in its own mind that the evidence supported both.
  • The court abused its discretion in permitting Dr. Sweeney to testify that the victim was in pain during the sexual assault and that the extent of the pain was tantamount to that experienced by women during childbirth. The assertion of pain by a non-treating physician is supposed to be inadmissible. It is also important that Dr. Sweeney also apparently testified that the victim was still a virgin.


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