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Judge faults defense, police in vacating murder conviction

January 4, 2021 GMT

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A Rhode Island Superior Court judge has vacated the murder conviction of a man after finding that his trial attorney violated his rights by discouraging him from tesifying that he stabbed a man in self-defense.

In her decision overturning the second-degree murder conviction of Miguel Tebalan Rivera, Judge Netti C. Vogel also found that Providence police conducted an illegal interview by continuing to question Rivera long after he had asked for an attorney, The Providence Journal reported Monday.

The trial attorney failed to advise Rivera that without his testimony, there would be no evidence that his actions were in self defense.

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“Rivera rested without testifying, thereby assuring a conviction,” Vogel said.

She called the officers’ behavior “illegal, outrageous, and abusive.”

“At no time did the officers even hint that they would stop the interview and honor Rivera’s request for an attorney,” Vogel said.

Rivera, 38, was sentenced to 60 years in prison after he was convicted in a non-jury trial of the December 2015 stabbing death of 36-year-old Julio Francisco Perez.

Rivera said he stabbed Perez to stop him from killing him in a fight over money.