Saying police illegally searched some text messages, a Superior Court judge on Wednesday threw out most of the evidence against a man accused of killing his ex-girlfriend’s 6-year-old son but then denied the defendant’s request for bail.
A lawyer for Michael Patino, 30, asked for $20,000 surety bail, arguing that there was no evidence left against his client. He also sought a hearing on whether police officers made false statements in order to get search warrants in the case.
Superior Court Judge Judith Savage suppressed the evidence and then denied the bail request, saying Patino should stay in jail while she considers the search warrants and other pre-trial issues.
Patino is charged with murder in the 2009 death of Marco Nieves. The boy was the son of Patino’s girlfriend at the time, Trisha Oliver. After the judge’s decision, members of the boy’s family and their supporters left the courtroom and cheered in the courthouse hallway.
Prosecutors say Patino beat Nieves to death, while Patino maintains he was horsing around with the boy and accidentally hit him. Patino’s lawyer, David Cooper, has said the boy’s mother was negligent because she waited too long before taking him to the hospital. Oliver has not been charged.
Prosecutors have said they will appeal the decision that threw out the text messages and other evidence.
In her ruling, Savage wrote that police officers illegally looked at text messages sent between Patino and his girlfriend on cellphones they found at her apartment in Cranston. The judge said all the evidence they collected based on those texts, which included messages that indicated Patino had hit the boy, interviews with Patino and other evidence, was tainted and couldn’t be used at trial.
She also criticized the conduct of the Cranston Police Department, saying officers compromised the integrity of the evidence.