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.