High court grants man convicted of molestation a new trial

January 17, 2020 GMT

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A Rhode Island man convicted of sexually molesting a 7-year-old girl has been granted a new trial by the state’s highest court over improper statements by the prosecution.

The Rhode Island Supreme Court on Thursday in its decision on Henry Bozzo’s appeal vacated his conviction and sent the case back to Superior Court for a new trial.

Bozzo, 64, of Warwick, was convicted in 2017 of first-degree child molestation and sentenced to serve 18 years of a 45-year prison sentence. He was convicted of inappropriately touching a neighbor’s daughter in August 2015.

He appealed on several grounds, including that the judge denied his motion for a mistrial based on the prosecutor’s comments during closing arguments about defendant’s courtroom demeanor.

The justices said the prosecutor’s statements “were not based on evidence or testimony adduced at trial, were extraneous to the issues in the case, and had the potential for unfair prejudice” and thus “the trial justice erred in denying defendant’s motion to pass the case.”