Lawyer in murder trial grills Woonsocket man on cooperation deal, criminal past – The Providence Journal

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A Woonsocket man told jurors that he refused to continue speaking with investigators about the shooting death of the 24-year-old man whose body was found burned at the side of the road in July 2017 until they gave him assurances about his own culpability in the crime.

James Clark, 44, returned to the stand for a second day in the trial of 18-year-old Xavier Vidot for allegedly shooting to death his mother’s boyfriend, Valdez Loiseau, July 17, 2017. His mother, Melonie Perez, is accused of trying to help him cover-up the killing and failing to report a crime.

“You didn’t want to talk till they made you some promises?” Perez’s lawyer, Victor J. Beretta Jr., said.

“Yes,” Clark said.

Clark, who has a criminal record dating to the 1990s, said he was concerned about losing his job and taking care of his own interests.

“I’m a citizen now. I’m no longer a criminal,” Clark said. Asked why he was hesitant, he said, “I was worried about getting charged for something I didn’t do.”

Beretta focused on Clark’s “long history” of drug dealing, a domestic-assault conviction, and an escape charge for walking away from a halfway house. Clark said he stopped dealing drugs in 2002 after serving time in federal prison.

Clark said he agreed to speak with Cranston police only after they reached out to the attorney general’s office on his behalf. He agreed to cooperate with the state and ended up pleading no contest to failing to report a crime and received a six-month suspended sentence with probation. In addition, he served four months in federal prison for violating his supervised release on a previous drug case due to his involvement in the disposal of Loiseau’s body.

Clark testified this week that Perez called him the evening of July 17, 2017, and asked him for help. He said Vidot told him shortly after he arrived at their address, 15 Edgewood Ave., in Cranston, that he shot Loiseau after Loiseau lunged at him.

Clark said he refused to touch the body and watched as Vidot and Perez struggled to get Loiseau’s body in the trunk of his rental car. Perez then directed him to Attleboro, where he said mother and son put the body by the side of the road and Vidot set it on fire.

Beretta asked Clark why he hadn’t told jurors Thursday about Perez being “high as hell” on pills, coke or Adderall. “They didn’t ask,” said Clark, who bristled at times under Beretta’s vigorous questioning.

“You didn’t go to the station to get gas?” No, Clark said.

Had he helped carry the body or put it in the trunk?  No, Clark said.

Vidot’s lawyer, John M. Cicilline, questioned Clark about his account to police that Loiseau had climbed in the window to get at Perez and that they were fighting. Clark said he he didn’t recall those facts now, but believed they were true if they were in a police report.

The jurors also viewed photos of Perez taken by police the day Cranston police recovered Loiseau’s body with bruising on her thighs, knee and shoulder.

Vidot and Perez have pleaded not guilty. They argue that Loiseau was beating Perez and that he was shot amid a struggle.

Special Assistants Attorney General Robert Johnson and Kimberly Ahern are prosecuting the case, which is being overseen by Superior Court Judge Robert D. Krause.

 

 

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Bill Cosby sentenced to 3 to 10 years in prison for sexual assault

Bill cosby

  • Bill Cosby was sentenced on Tuesday to three to 10 years in state prison at a Norristown, Pennsylvania, court.
  • The 81-year-old comedian faced up to 10 years in prison after he was convicted in April of drugging and sexually assaulting a woman over a decade ago.
  • A judge declared Cosby a “sexually violent predator” ahead of his sentencing, which requires the comic’s name to appear on a sex-offender registry.

Bill Cosby was sentenced to three to 10 years in state prison at a Norristown, Pennsylvania, court on Tuesday.

The 81-year-old comedian faced up to 10 years in prison after he was convicted in April of drugging and sexually assaulting Temple University women’s-basketball administrator Andrea Constand at his suburban Philadelphia estate in 2004.

Montgomery County Judge Steven O’Neill made the decision after declaring Cosby a “sexually violent predator” ahead of his sentencing, requiring the comic to appear on a sex-offender registry and undergo monthly counseling for the rest of his life.

“It is time for justice,” O’Neill said in his sentencing decision. “Mr. Cosby, this has all circled back to you. The time has come.”

Cosby’s lawyers had asked that he be allowed to remain free on bail while he appealed his conviction, but the judge denied the bail request and ordered Cosby to be imprisoned immediately. Cosby was led away in handcuffs.

Before the sentencing, Cosby’s lawyers had also asked for house arrest, arguing that Cosby — who’s legally blind — was too old and vulnerable to do time in prison. Prosecutors had asked for five to 10 years behind bars, saying the comic could still be a threat to women. He will serve his time in state prison.

Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele rejected the notion that “age, infirmity, should somehow equate to mercy.”

“He was good at hiding this for a long time,” Steele said. “Good at suppressing this for a long time. So it’s taken a long time to get there.”

Cosby’s lawyers had fought the “sexually violent predator” designation, arguing that Pennsylvania’s sex-offender law is unconstitutional and that he was no threat to the public at his age. But O’Neill said prosecutors had met their burden of proof by “clear and convincing” evidence.

When the ruling came down, a woman in courtroom shot her fist into the air and said “Yes!”

Constand said in a statement submitted to the court and released Tuesday that she’s had to cope with years of anxiety and self-doubt that had left her “stuck in a holding pattern.”

Constand, 45, said her training as a professional basketball player had led her to think she could handle anything, but “life as I knew it” ended on the night she said Cosby knocked her out with pills and penetrated her with his fingers as she lay nearly paralyzed on a couch.

Constand said she now lives alone with her two dogs but has trouble trusting people.

“When the sexual assault happened, I was a young woman brimming with confidence and looking forward to a future bright with possibilities,” she wrote in her five-page statement. “Now, almost 15 years later, I’m a middle-aged woman who’s been stuck in a holding pattern for most of her adult life, unable to heal fully or to move forward.”

She added, “We may never know the full extent of his double life as a sexual predator but his decades-long reign of terror as a serial rapist is over.”

In the years since Constand first went to authorities in 2005, more than 60 women have accused Cosby of sexual misconduct, though none of those claims have led to criminal charges.

Cosby was smiling and joking with his spokesman and sheriff’s deputies as he settled into the courtroom Tuesday. On day one of the sentencing, the comic laughed at times as the psychologist for the state testified.

Cameras were not allowed in the courtroom; they’re generally banned in Pennsylvania.

Cosby became the first black actor to star in a prime-time TV show, “I Spy,” in 1965. He remained a Hollywood A-lister for much of the next half-century.

Associated Press writers Maryclaire Dale, Michael R. Sisak, and Claudia Lauer contributed to this report.

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