State v. Angell, No. 78-43-C

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Rhode Island
Writing for the CourtBEVILACQUA
Citation122 R.I. 160,405 A.2d 10
PartiesSTATE v. Robert A. ANGELL. A.
Docket NumberNo. 78-43-C
Decision Date09 August 1979

Page 10

405 A.2d 10
122 R.I. 160
STATE

v.
Robert A. ANGELL.
No. 78-43-C.A.
Supreme Court of Rhode Island.
Aug. 9, 1979.

Dennis J. Roberts II, Atty. Gen., John E. Migliaccio, Special Asst. Atty. Gen., for plaintiff.

William F. Reilly, Public Defender, Barbara Hurst, Chief Appellate Atty., Providence, for defendant.

OPINION

[122 R.I. 162] BEVILACQUA, Chief Justice.

The defendant, Robert A. Angell, was indicted for murder and tried before a jury in the Superior Court. The jury returned a verdict of guilty, and the judge sentenced the defendant to life imprisonment. The defendant appeals from that judgment.

The testimony developed at the trial established that Antonio Bettencourt and defendant were at the Watchemoket Bar in East Providence on the evening of September 19, 1973. A bartender at that bar, John Medeiros, testified that the two men drank from approximately 6:30 p. m. until 8 p. m. and that Bettencourt was buying "rounds" of drinks for himself and defendant.

Medeiros also testified that Bettencourt had a wallet full of money. Under further

Page 12

questioning Medeiros stated on cross-examination that someone had told him that Bettencourt had cashed a check that evening. He later testified on redirect examination, over defendant's objection, that he was told that the amount of the check was approximately $230.

The defendant and Bettencourt left the Watchemoket Bar near 8 p. m. and went to the East Providence Athletic Club. James Carroll, a bartender at that club, testified that the two men came in together and drank and played pool. He further testified that defendant left the club at approximately 8:30 p. m. after he stated that he was going home to get his car to give Bettencourt a ride home. Carroll also stated that Bettencourt left the club a few minutes after defendant.

Carroll further explained that approximately 20 minutes later, defendant, whom he described as being "out of breath," came back into the bar to look for Bettencourt but left when Carroll told him that Bettencourt was gone. [122 R.I. 163] Carroll also testified that from his position behind the bar he could normally see and hear cars that entered and left the club parking lot. He stated that upon defendant's return to the bar, he neither heard nor saw any car enter or leave the parking lot.

Testimony was also elicited from Joseph Coelho and William McNally, who were in the vicinity of the club that evening. McNally testified that he saw Bettencourt walk into the club that evening with another man. He stated that sometime later he saw Bettencourt walking away from the club followed up the street by the same individual with whom he had entered the club. Coelho also stated that he saw Bettencourt walk along the street away from the club that evening and that a man who fit the description of defendant followed Bettencourt up the street.

Testimony was also given by Edward Stanley, an East Providence resident. Mr. Stanley testified that during the evening of September 19, 1973 he was in his home on Fifth Street when he heard someone moaning outside. He stated that when he went outside, he found Bettencourt lying face down along the side of the curb, whereupon he proceeded to call the police.

The medical examiner, Augustine Colella, testified that Bettencourt had a laceration between the back and top of his head and that he had suffered a hemorrhage within the subdural space of his head. He stated that the causes of death were severe head injuries, including the subdural hemorrhage, and the hemorrhage was consistent with blunt trauma.

Sergeant John Hardy of the East Providence Police Department, an investigating officer, testified that the following day he and another officer went to the area where Bettencourt was found to look for evidence relating to the incident. He stated that they found a 2- by 4-inch board approximately 10 inches long about 6 to 10 feet from the area in which Bettencourt was found. According to Sergeant Hardy, the board was tagged for identification and turned [122 R.I. 164] over to the East Providence Bureau of Criminal Identification. The board was not presented as evidence at the trial, however, because it was destroyed by a fire in the East Providence Police Station.

The defendant's wife, Evelyn Angell, also testified at the trial. Mrs. Angell, who failed to give the police a statement concerning her husband's alleged culpability in Bettencourt's death until 3 years after the incident, testified that on the evening in question defendant left their apartment about 5:15 p. m. to go to the Watchemoket Bar. She stated that he returned that evening between 8 p. m. and 9 p. m. out of breath with blood on his T-shirt. According to Mrs. Angell, defendant stated that he had hit Bettencourt with a board and that he thought that he had killed him. She further testified that defendant told her that he had taken money from Bettencourt and that he had showed her between $100-$175. She also stated that her husband replaced his torn T-shirt with burnt-orange one. She then disposed of the old T-shirt by putting it in the garbage. According to Mrs. Angell, she and defendant rehearsed an alibi at his insistence. The alibi concerned

Page 13

a visit to her mother's house and was to be used if the police questioned Mrs. Angell. During cross-examination, Mrs. Angell indicated that the police had told her that when Bettencourt was found, money was missing from his person.

The defendant also took the witness stand to testify on his own behalf. He stated that he was at the Watchemoket Bar with approximately $10-$20 when he began drinking with Bettencourt. Pursuant to Bettencourt's invitation, he went to the East Providence Athletic Club, where the two continued to drink. He stated that he left the club alone and that he went home to get his car to give Bettencourt a ride home. According to Angell, he returned to the club with his car but was told that Bettencourt had already left. He stated that he then returned home and took his wife to visit with his mother-in-law. The defendant denied that he struck and robbed Bettencourt.

[122 R.I. 165] Alfred Nesbit, Mrs. Angell's brother, testified as a rebuttal witness. Mr. Nesbit stated that he was living with his mother on Northup Street in Warwick on September 19, 1973, and that defendant had not been there to visit that evening. He further testified that defendant had not been to the Northup Street residence to visit since November 1972.

The defendant alleges three...

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28 practice notes
  • State v. Lynch, No. 1999-327-C.A.
    • United States
    • Rhode Island Supreme Court
    • August 12, 2004
    ...by the declarant while testifying at a trial or hearing, offered in evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted." State v. Angell, 122 R.I. 160, 167, 405 A.2d 10, 14 (1979). As a rule, hearsay statements are excluded from the evidence introduced at trial because the usual safeguards ......
  • State v. Pacheco, 83-254-C
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Rhode Island
    • August 30, 1984
    ...Providence School Committee v. Rhode Island State Labor Relations Board, 122 R.I. 415, 418, 408 A.2d 928, 929 (1979); State v. Angell, 122 R.I. 160, 170, 405 A.2d 10, 15 In the case at bar, the words of Rule 14 are plain and unambiguous. If the prosecution offers a confession by one defenda......
  • United States v. Breton, No. 12–2293.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (1st Circuit)
    • January 6, 2014
    ...in a criminal case, regardless of whether she is a victim and notwithstanding the defendant-spouse's objection. See State v. Angell, 122 R.I. 160, 405 A.2d 10, 15–16 (1979) (citing State v. Kenyon, 18 R.I. 217, 26 A. 199 (1893), and interpreting R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 12–17–10). 16. Because ......
  • State v. Udin, No. 78-440-C
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Rhode Island
    • August 1, 1980
    ...statutory intent from the words of the statute if they are free from ambiguity and express a reasonable meaning. State v. Angell, R.I., 405 A.2d 10, 15 (1979); Little v. Conflict of Interest Commission, R.I., 397 A.2d 884, 887 (1979). When ascertaining legislative intent, we consider statut......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
28 cases
  • State v. Lynch, No. 1999-327-C.A.
    • United States
    • Rhode Island Supreme Court
    • August 12, 2004
    ...by the declarant while testifying at a trial or hearing, offered in evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted." State v. Angell, 122 R.I. 160, 167, 405 A.2d 10, 14 (1979). As a rule, hearsay statements are excluded from the evidence introduced at trial because the usual safeguards ......
  • State v. Pacheco, No. 83-254-C
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Rhode Island
    • August 30, 1984
    ...Providence School Committee v. Rhode Island State Labor Relations Board, 122 R.I. 415, 418, 408 A.2d 928, 929 (1979); State v. Angell, 122 R.I. 160, 170, 405 A.2d 10, 15 In the case at bar, the words of Rule 14 are plain and unambiguous. If the prosecution offers a confession by one defenda......
  • United States v. Breton, No. 12–2293.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (1st Circuit)
    • January 6, 2014
    ...in a criminal case, regardless of whether she is a victim and notwithstanding the defendant-spouse's objection. See State v. Angell, 122 R.I. 160, 405 A.2d 10, 15–16 (1979) (citing State v. Kenyon, 18 R.I. 217, 26 A. 199 (1893), and interpreting R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 12–17–10). 16. Because ......
  • State v. Udin, No. 78-440-C
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Rhode Island
    • August 1, 1980
    ...statutory intent from the words of the statute if they are free from ambiguity and express a reasonable meaning. State v. Angell, R.I., 405 A.2d 10, 15 (1979); Little v. Conflict of Interest Commission, R.I., 397 A.2d 884, 887 (1979). When ascertaining legislative intent, we consider statut......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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