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State v. Padilla

Supreme Court of Rhode Island

November 3, 2017

Luis Padilla.

         Providence County Superior Court (P1/11-180C) Associate Justice Daniel A. Procaccini

          For State: Christopher R. Bush Department of Attorney General.

          For Defendant: Jeffery Biolchini, Esq. J. Richard Ratcliffe, Esq.

          Present: Suttell, C.J., Goldberg, Flaherty, Robinson, and Indeglia, JJ.



         The defendant, Luis Padilla (defendant or Padilla), appeals his conviction of first-degree robbery[1] following a Superior Court jury-waived trial in Providence County. This matter came before the Supreme Court on September 26, 2017, pursuant to an order directing the parties to appear and show cause why the issues raised should not be summarily decided. After considering the arguments set forth in the parties' memoranda and at oral argument, we are convinced that cause has not been shown. Thus, further argument or briefing is not required to decide this matter. For the reasons outlined below, the Superior Court's judgment is affirmed.

         I Facts and Travel

         This appeal arises from an incident that occurred on July 24, 2010. On that date, Justin McFadden (complainant or McFadden), as he had in the past, went to the Crossroads'[2] clinic for medical services. The events that followed his arrival, however, interrupted his purpose and instigated the criminal prosecution that is at issue in this case.

         McFadden testified that, when he arrived at Crossroads, he carried in his pockets his bank cards, bus pass, approximately $500 in cash, a necklace, and a bag of medication. He immediately went downstairs to the clinic, but learned that he could not be seen for at least another hour. He left and waited his turn in an outdoor locker area, sitting on the concrete floor with his back against a wall. He reported seeing two people, later identified as Juan Lugo (Lugo) and Jackson Rivera (Rivera), [3] about five to eight feet away, huddled together and conversing in Spanish. McFadden observed them for a short while before they turned to speak with a third man, later identified as Padilla, waiting outside the gate.[4] One of the men walked over to Padilla, who remained outside the gate, and both looked over at McFadden. At that point, they were approximately seventeen feet away from McFadden. From five to eight feet away, the third man continued to look "right at" him.

         At this point, all three men came together and "came at [McFadden]." Approximately four feet before reaching him, Padilla "broke off" from the group. Rivera and Lugo continued towards McFadden, and Lugo "pulled out a Rambo style knife and charged at [him]." After Lugo pulled out the knife, McFadden recalled him saying "I'm going to stab you" or "[g]ive what you have, your money." Rivera reiterated that sentiment, telling McFadden "[g]ive him the money."

         Within a few seconds of these statements, Lugo stabbed McFadden in his arm. Padilla then "rushed at [McFadden]." McFadden remembered "[p]unching, kicking, whatever [he] could do" to protect himself. He testified that he tried to grab Lugo's arm. He remembered he "had a good grip on [Lugo], " but Padilla "hit [him] and [he] got turned around." Lugo then stabbed him multiple times in the back. McFadden testified that he felt "[o]ne gigantic [incision] and one not so gigantic [incision]." Rivera then "was trying to go in [McFadden's] pockets." Though in and out of consciousness at that point, McFadden felt his belongings being removed from his pockets. McFadden testified at trial that Padilla was the one who "hit [him] like a linebacker" before going through his pockets while he was on the ground. In his statement to the grand jury six months after the incident, McFadden had testified that Padilla "came up from behind [him] pretty quickly" after he was stabbed in the arm. He also noted that, while he wrestled Padilla, he "got a good look at his face."

         At trial, McFadden testified that, following the stabbing, he chased after the three men. As he ran, he recalled seeing and hearing a woman, later identified as Frances Paban, who was "very upset" "screaming" at Lugo, "not in so many words saying you are an idiot, what are you doing." McFadden recalled that a person grabbed him from behind, attempting to stop his bleeding. Fire and rescue soon arrived and transported him to the hospital. He awoke a day or so later to learn that his kidney had been lacerated. In addition, he had superficial wounds on his arm and back, and an interior mesh had been inserted into his abdomen. He was initially released from the hospital after one week, but later hospitalized a second time after developing an infection. He also spent six months using a walker upon his release.

         The day after the attack, McFadden gave the police a recorded statement wherein he reviewed three photo arrays to identify his attackers. The police instructed McFadden to circle anyone who participated in the attack, and to write the nature of that person's involvement under his picture. McFadden identified Rivera as the man who said "give me the money" while approaching him alongside Lugo. In a second photo array, McFadden selected Lugo as the man who stabbed him. Finally, in a third photo array, McFadden recognized Padilla, who he acknowledged "was there." The police returned three days later to take another statement, at which time McFadden confirmed the previous photo identifications.

         A. ...

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