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Esteban CARPIO





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Escape attempt
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: April 17, 2005
Date of arrest: Same day
Date of birth: July 30, 1978
Victim profile: Police Detective Sgt. James L. Allen
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Providence, Providence County, Rhode Island, USA
Status: Sentenced to life in prison without parole on October 10, 2006

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Supreme Court of Rhode Island


State v. Esteban Carpio


Esteban Carpio (born July 30, 1978) is a convicted prison inmate, serving a life sentence for the murder of a policeman in 2005.

Carpio was born in Boston, Massachusetts on July 30, 1978. He was convicted of the murder of Providence Police Detective Sgt. James L. Allen on April 17, 2005 at Providence Police headquarters. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

While Carpio was being questioned by the Providence Police for the stabbing of an 85-year-old woman, a detective left the third floor interview room, leaving Allen alone with Carpio. Carpio took Allen's gun and shot him twice, killing him. He then jumped out of the window, and was apprehended 45 minutes later.

At his arraignment Carpio came in wearing a mask, with his eyes red and swollen, with his family making accusations of police brutality. According to a press conference statement made at the time by Providence Police Chief Dean M. Esserman, Carpio's injuries were sustained as a result of his jump from the third floor of a building and struggle with law enforcement.

At trial, Christopher Zarrella, a state police detective who helped in the arrest, testified that he had punched Carpio in the face three times. According to that day's testimony, Zarrella broke bones in Carpio's face. An FBI investigation concluded that Providence police did not use excessive force.

On June 27, 2006, a jury found Carpio guilty of the murder of Detective Allen and the stabbing of Madeline Gatta. The jury rejected Carpio's insanity defense; he was sentenced to life in prison without parole.


Carpio gets life without parole

October 10, 2006

PROVIDENCE -- Superior Court Judge Robert D. Krause today sentenced Esteban Carpio to life without parole for the 2005 murder of Detective Sgt. James L. Allen.

On top of that, Krause gave Carpio an additional life sentence for the use of a firearm while committing a crime. The judge also sentenced Carpio to 20 years in prison for the assault on Madeline Gatta, now 84.

"It would appear to the court, Mr. Carpio, that you are incorrigible," Judge Krause said. He went on to say that to allow Carpio even the possibility of parole would be antithetical in a civilized society.

Before the sentencing, Carpio told the court: "I was doing all right until one day I woke up and there was something wrong with me."

In his first public statement, Carpio today said that he was unable to control himself the night at the police station when he killed Sgt. Allen with the detective's gun.

Carpio, who began to cry during his statement, also addressed the Allen family. "I am truly sorry for what has happened to the victims and the victims' families," he said.

His lawyer, Robert L. Sheketoff, said he will appeal the conviction and sentence.

Carpio never denied that he killed the officer. He pleaded not guilty by virtue of insanity, a rare defense that was not accepted by the jury.

Attorney General Patrick Lynch issued a statement this afternoon praising the ruling.

"I thank the Court, I thank Judge Krause, for this sentence. There is no greater punishment, no tougher penalty, than that which Judge Krause just -- and justly --imposed: life without the possibility of parole," Lynch said.

"Clearly, Esteban Carpio's crimes, of which he was convicted in June, qualify as the worst of the worst. In the event that the defendant pursues his Constitutional rights and appeals his conviction, and this sentence, I will fight to the very end to ensure that they stand. To do any less would dishonor the memory of one of the best officers ever to wear the badge of the Providence Police Department."

Providence Mayor David N. Cicilline also weighed in.

"Although todayís guilty verdict concludes an important chapter in the criminal proceedings, itís important to remember that the loss of Detective Allen continues to be a great source of pain the Allen family, Police Department and the city of Providence," Cicilline said in a statement. "The sacrifices Detective Allen made on behalf of the residents of this city will never be forgotten."

-- Gregory Smith, Journal staff writer


Carpio found guilty

The jury rejects Esteban Carpio's insanity defense, convicting him of the murder of Detective Sgt. James L. Allen and the stabbing of Madeline Gatta.

By Gregory Smith -

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

PROVIDENCE -- A Superior Court jury yesterday convicted Esteban Carpio of the murder of Providence police Detective Sgt. James L. Allen and the stabbing of an elderly woman, concluding that he was not insane at the time.

The verdict by an all-white jury of nine women and three men was reported at 3:25 p.m. on the 14th day of the trial, after about nine hours of deliberation over two days.

Carpio's relatives in the gallery began crying, including Yvonne Carpio, his mother and a teacher in the Boston public schools, who had taken the stand in her son's defense. She recalled how she had him picked up in an ambulance and treated at a hospital when he began acting strangely in the weeks before Allen's murder.

She and her son's girlfriend, Samein "Soul" Phin, who lawyers for both sides called a prostitute during the trial, testified that they warned Allen and other officers who took Carpio into custody for questioning in the stabbing that their suspect was mentally disturbed.

When Carpio's guards stood him up at the defense table after the proceedings yesterday, he turned to his mother and mouthed the words, "I love you, Mom." "I love you, Stevie," she called out, using the English translation of her son's first name.


Carpio trial: Jury hears audio of hysterical defendant

June 20, 2006

PROVIDENCE -- The jury in the murder trial of Esteban Carpio today heard audio recordings of two police interviews with the suspect in the murder of a city detective at police headquarters.

One featured a sedated Carpio, being interviewed by Detective John Finegan at Rhode Island Hospital at about 3 a.m., a few hours after the fatal shooting of Detective Sgt. James L. Allen.

The second was an hour-long interview at police headquarters shortly after 10 the same morning.

In it, a hysterical Carpio was questioned by Finegan and Detective Sgt. Vincent Mansolillo, who could be heard alternating his questions with attempts to calm Carpio down.

Carpio at times sobbed and insisted he was "crazy" and that nobody loved him.

Neuropsychologist Paul A. Spiers testified today that Esteban Carpio suffered from a major mental illness and "was probably in the throes of psychosis" when he shot and killed a city police detective last year.

Spiers took the stand today for the defense, which hopes to prove that Carpio is not guilty of the murder by reason of insanity.

Spiers said that in his opinion, as a result of the psychosis, Carpio lacked the capacity to conform his behavior to the requirements of the law.

Spiers based his conclusions on an interview with Carpio last November and on medical records from Carpio's visits to Faulkner Hospital, in Boston, and Rhode Island Hospital days before the April 16, 2005, shooting at Providence police headquarters.

He also listened to tapes of a police detective's interview with Carpio at Rhode Island Hospital after Carpio's arrest in the shooting. Those tapes were being played today in court.

The defense is expected to question its last witness today; the prosecution would then begin its rebuttal tomorrow.

-- With reports from Journal staff writer Edward Fitzpatrick


Carpio trial: Girlfriend tells of alarming behavior

June 19, 2006

PROVIDENCE -- Samein Phin testified today that she had grown alarmed by the behavior of her boyfriend, Esteban Carpio, in the days before he is accused of shooting a city detective inside police headquarters.

Phin said he would talk to himself and to his hand and recalled him saying, "I'm the finest gold."

"He was telling me that somebody did voodoo on him and he was scared," said Phin, 24, who described herself as a retired escort and streetwalker as well as the mother of Carpio's 4-year-old daughter.

Phin, of Cambodian descent, said she took Carpio to a Buddhist temple to pray for help. A monk blessed a string that Carpio tied around his waist to drive away the devil and evil spirits, Phin said.

When police came to her home to question Carpio about the stabbing of an elderly woman in April 2005, Phin said she warned the detectives that Carpio was suffering a nervous breakdown, was having trouble sleeping and was not in his right mind.

She said she gave the same information to Detective Sgt. James L. Allen during a brief conversation at police headquarters and that the detective offered to get Carpio help if he needed it.

Carpio is on trial for shooting Allen at police headquarters during an interview several hours later, on April 16, 2005.

This morning, Carpio's mother, Yvonne Carpio, testified that in the weeks before the killing, her son told her the devil was out to get him and that he was cursed.

She said she grew so concerned about her son's behavior that on April 2, 2005, she called for an ambulance to come to her home in Boston. She says her son was taken to Boston's Faulkner Hospital but later released and given five Ambien pills.

She says her son later showed her a string that he tied around his waist that was supposed to keep the devil and evil spirits away.

The defense has acknowledged that Carpio killed Allen, but argues that he should be found not guilty by reason of insanity.


Man charged with killing R.I. detective to begin insanity defense

By Eric Tucker, Associated Press Writer

June 18, 2006

PROVIDENCE, R.I. --Addressing jurors in his opening statement earlier this month, Esteban Carpio's own lawyer said the evidence would be overwhelming that his client fatally shot a police detective and stabbed an elderly woman.

But the lawyer, Robert Sheketoff, said the key question was not whether Carpio committed the acts but whether he was too deranged to be held criminally responsible for them.

On Monday, Sheketoff will begin presenting an insanity defense for Carpio, who is standing trial on charges that he killed Detective Sgt. James Allen with the officer's own gun at police headquarters last year, hours after attacking an 84-year-old woman with a knife.

Sheketoff says doctors who examined Carpio classified him as psychotic. His family said he had been hearing voices, and corrections officials say Carpio refused to eat in prison and banged his head on the wall.

Experts in psychiatry and the law say insanity defenses are used in a small fraction of criminal cases and are rarely successful. They say juries can be skeptical that mental illness absolves someone of criminal wrongdoing or fear that a "not guilty" verdict can ultimately return a dangerous defendant to the street.

"When it's been a serious crime like murder and it seems to be fairly deliberate, it's hard to convince a jury that the mental illness may have been a significant factor in what happened," said Howard Zonana, medical director of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law and a psychiatry professor at Yale University.

Zonana said insanity defenses are used in less than 1 percent of criminal cases. H. Reed Cosper, Rhode Island's mental health advocate, said he could recall fewer than a half-dozen insanity defenses in the state in the last 20 years.

Insanity defenses have been used with varying success in notorious criminal cases around the country.

John Hinckley Jr., who shot President Reagan in 1981, was acquitted by reason of insanity and has been held for more than two decades at a hospital in Washington. Lorena Bobbitt, charged with cutting off her husband's penis in 1993, was also found not guilty by reason of insanity after she described being abused by her husband.

But jurors in 2002 rejected the insanity defense of Andrea Yates, convicting the Texas woman in the bathtub drownings of her five children. The conviction was overturned because of erroneous testimony by a witness, but Yates is again pleading innocent by reason of insanity in her upcoming retrial.

"Usually the insanity defense is successful when the person is totally out of it," said Jennifer Bard, a professor at the Texas Tech University School of Law who has written about the insanity defense. "He doesn't know what day it is, he doesn't know what he did, he wouldn't know if he was pulling the trigger."

Even defendants who are mentally ill may not be able to satisfy their state's definition of legally insane.

To prove insanity in Rhode Island, defendants have to show that their mental disease or defect prevented them from appreciating the wrongfulness of their acts or controlling their behavior. It's a high threshold to meet, Cosper said, but more favorable to mentally ill defendants than an alternative standard that hinges simply on whether the defendant knew right from wrong. Experts say an insane person could know right from wrong, but still be unable to control their behavior.

Prosecutor Paul Daly, who rested his case last week, tried to show that Carpio calculated his moves and acted with a keenly aware criminal mind. He will have an opportunity to rebut the insanity defense in what could come down to a battle of experts in psychiatry.

Prosecutors plan to seek life in prison without parole for Carpio if he is convicted of murdering Allen. He would be placed in the state mental hospital if acquitted by reason of insanity.

Carpio was brought to police headquarters late on April 16, 2005 to be questioned about the stabbing of Madeline Gatta, now 85, earlier that day. He is accused of grabbing Allen's gun, shooting him twice at close range and then shooting out a nearby window to escape. He was captured in downtown Providence and fought violently with the officers who tried to arrest him, according to trial testimony.

He made his first court appearance with a heavily bruised face, and his family alleged he was a victim of police brutality. An investigation found authorities did not use excessive force.


Carpio trial: Both of Allens' wounds were fatal, detective says

June 14, 2006

PROVIDENCE -- City police Detective Patricia Cornell testified this afternoon that either one of two gunshot wounds suffered by Detective Sgt. James L. Allen could have killed him.

Cornell, who took the stand this morning at the trial of murder suspect Esteban Carpio, has been reviewing crime scene evidence.

She said this afternoon that the headshot to Allen was at close range, according to gunshot residue on him. A gunshot to the clavicle was from at least three feet away, she said.

Three bullets were fired in the conference room at police headquarters where the shooting occurred in April 2005. Cornell said today that the third was lodged in the base of a table in the room.

The evidence shows that that bullet was fired from someone standing with his back to the interior of the closed conference room door, she said, adding that rabbit fur from Carpio's rabbit fur jacket was found on the door.

Cross-examination of Cornell began before the trial stopped for today. It will resume tomorrow morning.

Earlier today, the owner of a Boston barber shop, where Carpio told police he worked on the day Allen was killed, appeared on the witness stand.

Doyen Dunkley, of A-1 Barber Shop, denied knowing or ever seeing Carpio, now on trial for murdering Allen and stabbing an elderly woman hours before.

Later in the proceedings, Providence police Sgt. Robert Boehm, who works in the department's weapons unit, used Allen's holster -- known as a pancake holster -- to show the jury how one would remove the gun. In a detailed demonstration, Boehm used Allen's actual gun, its evidence tag hanging off.

Trooper testifies he punched Carpio in the face

State Police Detective Chistopher Zarrella testified today that in arresting Carpio last year he punched Carpio three times in the face with his closed fist.

Zarrella, the first witness to testify today said he hit Carpio on Washington Street a few blocks from police headquarters.

"I struck him because he was trying to strike me. And I thought he had a weapon,'' Zarrella testified.

He added during further questioning that Carpio was swinging at him and that he believed that his life was in danger.

Until today's testimony, the public never knew who injured Carpio the night of the arrest. According to today's testimony, Zarrella broke bones in Carpio's face.

Carpio last year wore a protective face shield at his arraignment, which corrections officials said was to prevent him from spitting at officers.

A spokeswoman for the state Department of Corrections called the use of the mask a rare security measure. The spokeswoman did not mention Carpio's injuries.

-- Staff writer Gregory Smith



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