In 1982, a 22-year-old woman was beaten to death in Woonsocket, Rhode Island. Almost ten years later, Raymond Tempest was convicted of her murder. The case against Tempest relied solely on the claims of four individuals who stated that Tempest had confessed to his involvement in the crime to them. There was no physical evidence presented against Tempest during the trial.
There were numerous factors that contributed to the wrongful conviction of Raymond Tempest, starting with the crime scene. It was seen that the basement where the crime occurred was never properly closed off by police and that the individual in charge of gathering evidence was completely unfamiliar with Bureau of Criminal Investigations procedures and how to handle the evidence. DNA evidence also showed that a hair found on the victim’s body did not belong to Tempest, but this was not taken into consideration during the trial. Police misconduct was also cited; Woonsocket police were seen to have been feeding information to the individuals who testified against Tempest. Despite these inconsistencies, Tempest was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 85 years in prison.
In July of 2015, a judge reversed the murder charges against Tempest. He cited the failure of police and prosecutors to turn over evidence showing Tempest’s innocence and the that improper interviews done by the police compromised evidence. Tempest was released on bail in August of 2015, but still awaits a full exoneration.