Esteban Carpio's mother told police that he was mentally deranged, but police believed he had knifed an old woman that day, and they questioned him, without a lawyer, from the early evening into the midnights hours, at which time police accuse Carpio of taking a gun from the only police officer in the interrogation room, shooting the officer dead, and then jumping from an upper-floor window, after which a police chase ensued that ended with a horrific beating of Carpio that left his face so incredibly disfigured by fresh hammering that police were ashamed to show him to the court and instead put a mask over his face.
This case poses the societal and legal questions of whether the accused should be punished after conviction at trial or whether the Providence Police Department's summary extra-judicial punishment (see photograph), otherwise known as "lynching" when death results, is acceptable to the white people who make up the majority of the United States and the majority of its juries.
Virtually every one of the hundreds of cases of death of a member of the public after police lethally shock the person with an electrocution devise such as the Taser, sometimes repeatedly shocking handcuffed and arrested persons poses the same question: Is lynching de facto legal, or do police have to wait and submit cases to the judgment of courts, judges and juries rather than imposing a pre-trial death penalty and/or severe physical harm upon immobilized prey?
Esteban Carpio's lawyer has asked the Rhode Island Supreme Court to order a lower court to consider significant evidence that Esteban Carpio met the legal definition required for him to be declared not competent. They say that they showed at trial more than "a fair preponderance of the evidence — that his mental illness rendered him ineligible for conviction."
The largest local newspaper reported on September 4, 2010, that Carpio's legal defense, based on a mental illness that no one denies, had reached the Rhode Island Supreme Court with a request that a new hearing be held with the proper legal standard applied to his mental status:
01:00 AM EDT on Saturday, September 4, 2010
PROVIDENCE — Esteban Carpio, convicted of shooting to death Providence police Detective Sgt. James L. Allen at police headquarters, is asking the Rhode Island Supreme Court to void the conviction because he was not criminally responsible due to mental illness.
More than four years after his conviction in one of the most infamous murders of the modern Rhode Island era, Carpio has submitted a memorandum of appeal of his conviction and sentence.
Carpio would like to see the Supreme Court return the case to Superior Court Judge Robert D. Krause with an order that Krause enter a verdict of not guilty due to lack of criminal responsibility on all three of the counts of which he was convicted.The Carpio family, Providence Police and people from around the country, judging by this blog's Site Meter, are waiting to hear from the Rhode Island Supreme Court whether Carpio's mental condition now and at the time of the crimes of which he was convicted is to be considered in weighing Carpio's behavior and, implicity, the arguably criminal and obviously unwise behavior of the Providence Police Department.
Through his appellate lawyers at the public defender’s office, Carpio contends that the defense proved by more than the required standard — a fair preponderance of the evidence — that his mental illness rendered him ineligible for conviction. He further contends that Judge Krause erred in his instructions to the jury that convicted him; and that his sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole is unfairly excessive, in large part because of his illness.
While it is natural that the Providence Police Department is aggrieved by what happened on that fateful day, they should seriously consider whether question a mentally ill man for hours and then leaving him alone in a room with one solitary armed police detective created an unreasonable risk that the exhausted and some say psychotic Carpio would use the officer's own gun to kill the officer.
Maybe, police should have given more consideration to the mother's insistence that Carpio was psychotic and therefore presented a danger to himself and other. If they had shown that sensitivity and concern for their own safety, then the police detective who died might be alive today.