Cranston Police Chief Marco Palombo Jr. said the department is reviewing a Superior Court judge's decision issued Tuesday to throw out a mountain of evidence obtained from cell phone text messages in the murder trial of Michael Patino, who is accused of killing his girlfriend's six-year-old son, Marco Nieves, in Cranston in 2009.
Palombo said the department "first and foremost" is focused on "pursuing justice for Marco Nieves and his family."
"We are still reviewing Judge [Judith] Savage's lengthy decision and are working with the Attorney General's Office to determine he appropriate course of judicial action," Palombo said.
The 190-page ruling includes at-times scathing assertions that officers working the case stated in sworn affidavits a "troubling array of facts, that are intentionally inconsistent and otherwise riddled with inaccuracies."
Cranston Mayor Allan W. Fung issued a similar statement in the wake of Savage's ruling, saying he has "full confidence that the members of the Cranston Police Department are out there tonight doing their job to keep the citizens safe."
"That being said, I am still reviewing the judge’s decision and will determine what actions, if any, need to be taken with regard to the work of the specific officers referenced,” Fung said.
The 190 page ruling (attached to this story) concludes that the department illegally seized evidence from a cell phone and used information gleaned from text messages during their interrogation of Patino before they had a warrant.
Additionally, the court ruled, the police department's use of the evidence resulted in securing warrants to search the Dyer Avenue apartment that Nieves lived with his mother, "further evidence of the continuing taint in its criminal investigation," Savage wrote. "no other information is provided in the affidavits themselves that would provide probably cause for the search of the contents of the cell phones."
The ruling blasts several officers for swearing under oath several statements that were "deliberately false or were made with reckless disregard of the truth." Those statements were part of the record that led to the issuance of warrants.
Stay tuned for more details about the case and an analysis of the ruling.