Dominican guilty of first-degree murder of man outside Providence nightclub

PROVIDENCE — A jury Thursday found Jesus Danilo Fuentes guilty of fatally shooting a Providence man outside the Platinum Night Club in November 2009.

The panel of seven men and five women deliberated about a day before convicting Fuentes, 37, of first-degree murder and using a firearm while committing a crime of violence, death resulting.

In doing so, they accepted the prosecution’s account that Fuentes shot 26-year-old Henry Vargas after the pair argued in the men’s room during a sacred drumming spiritual party at the Broad Street club. Fuentes then fled to Mexico, Guatemala and the Dominican Republic, where he was arrested in April 2010, prosecutors said.

Vargas’ family members, who watched much of the trial, occasionally in tears, said the verdict would relieve Vargas’ grandparents’ distress.

“We’re not happy,” said Ramone Diaz, who said Vargas helped raised him. “We’re relieved.”

Diaz said he felt some remorse for Fuentes and his family because he would “be going away for a long time.”

Vargas’ longtime girlfriend, Carmen Bueno, told jurors the couple went to the club for the voodoo party, when Vargas found himself in an argument with a man wearing a security T-shirt. The same man would later call out to Vargas as they approached their car outside the club, saying “You, fat man, don’t you want to fight me?” Bueno said. As Vargas ran toward the instigator, the man smiled and shot him three times.

Bueno was one of more than a half-dozen witnesses whose testimony came through interpreters over the course of the two-week trial. A handful of Fuentes’ friends and his sometimes girlfriend were called as prosecution witnesses. They gave testimony riddled with requests that Assistant Attorney General Randall White repeat his questions, and responses that at times appeared less than forthcoming.

In closing statements, Assistant Attorney General Thomas O’Brien argued that, despite their obstruction, the witnesses still placed an agitated Fuentes at the scene of the shooting.

Fuentes’ lawyer, Gary P. Pelletier, had argued that Bueno identified the wrong man. He insisted in closing it was a bouncer, Christino Mota, who also clashed with Vargas and worked security, who shot Vargas. Pelletier also suggested that the crime might have been committed by a man named Deejay Nelson, a witness who has since disappeared.

Fuentes, who observed the proceedings with the help of a Spanish-language interpreter, looked back at his son and brother and shook his head as sheriffs led him away after the verdict. His children, too, watched the proceedings from the back row of Judge Robert D. Krause’s courtroom. Their eyes welled with tears afterward.

“I obviously respect the jury’s decision,” Pelletier said. “But I believe they convicted the wrong man.”

Pelletier will argue for a new trial July 21.

 

Source: http://www.projo.com/news/courts

Go back | Date: 25 Jun 2011
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