Providence County (P1/10-3258AG) Superior Court Robert D.
Krause Associate Justice
State: Aaron L. Weisman Department of Attorney General.
Defendant: Lara E. Montecalvo Office of the Public Defender.
Present: Suttell, C.J., Goldberg, Flaherty, Robinson, and
Gilbert V. Indeglia Associate Justice.
2012 trial in Providence County Superior Court, a jury found
the defendant, Victor Arciliares (Arciliares or defendant),
guilty of one count of second-degree murder and one count of
discharging a firearm while committing a crime of
violence. The defendant timely appealed to this
Court, but ultimately filed a motion to remand the matter to
the Superior Court for a new trial in light of newly
discovered evidence. This Court granted the defendant's
unopposed motion. While on remand, the defendant filed
supplemental memoranda contending that he was entitled to a
new trial because the trial justice's jury instructions
regarding involuntary manslaughter were improper in light of
this Court's opinion in State v. Diaz, 46 A.3d
849 (R.I. 2012). The trial justice granted the
defendant's motion for a new trial on that ground, and we
granted the state's petition for a writ of certiorari
seeking review of that decision. The state argues that the
defendant's motion for a new trial based on the issue of
the propriety of the trial justice's jury instructions
was procedurally improper and that, even if the trial justice
did not err in hearing the motion, he nevertheless erred in
granting it because Diaz did not set forth a new
rule of law and the defendant failed to preserve this issue
at trial. For the reasons set forth herein, we quash the
order of the Superior Court.
Facts and Travel
October 28, 2010, a grand jury indicted defendant on two
counts of second-degree murder (counts 1 and 3), in violation
of G.L. 1956 § 11-23-1; one count of carrying a pistol
without a license (count 2), in violation of G.L. 1956 §
11-47-8(a); and one count of discharging a firearm while
committing a crime of violence (count 4), in violation of
§ 11-47-3.2(b)(3). A jury found defendant guilty of counts
1 and 4. The trial justice denied defendant's motion for
a new trial following the jury verdict, and he sentenced
defendant to a term of forty-five years imprisonment on count
1 and a consecutive life sentence on count 4.
3, 2012, defendant timely appealed his convictions to this
Court. Subsequently, on June 17, 2013, prior to filing his
brief-in-chief,  defendant moved to remand the case to the
Superior Court so that he might file a motion for new trial
based on newly discovered evidence pursuant to Rule 33 of the
Superior Court Rules of Criminal Procedure. The state did not
object to this motion. This Court granted defendant's
motion on September 16, 2013, remanding the case and holding
the appeal in abeyance pending the disposition of
defendant's Rule 33 motion. On April 15, 2014,
Superior Court, defendant filed his motion for a new trial
and corresponding memorandum in support of the motion,
alleging that newly discovered evidence and violations under
Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), entitled him
to a new trial. The state filed its objection to the motion
for a new trial. Thereafter, defendant filed supplemental
memoranda on August 4, 2015, December 22, 2015, and February
23, 2016. In his second and third supplemental memoranda,
defendant proffered a new argument in support of his motion
for a new trial, contending that the trial justice had erred
in instructing the jury as to involuntary manslaughter. In
support of his new position, defendant averred that
Diaz created a new rule of law requiring that the
trial justice's jury charge for involuntary manslaughter
contain a reference to "criminal negligence." The
defendant reasoned that, because the trial justice's jury
instructions at defendant's trial lacked such language,
and in fact contained nearly identical language to that used
in the trial in Diaz,  he was entitled to a new
February 29, 2016, the trial justice granted defendant's
motion for new trial on those grounds, and the state filed a
petition for a writ of certiorari with this Court. On June 3,
2016, this Court granted the state's petition and issued
the writ, instructing the parties "to address whether in
this Court's decision in State v. Diaz * * *
this Court announced a new rule of law in light of our
holdings in the following cases: State v.
Hallenbeck, 878 A.2d 992 (R.I. 2005); State v.
Ortiz, 824 A.2d 473 (R.I. 2003); State v.
Hockenhull, 525 A.2d 926 (R.I. 1987); and State v.
McVay, 47 R.I. 292, 132 A. 436 (1926)."
Standard of Review
review of a case on certiorari is limited to an examination
of the record to determine if an error of law has been
committed." DeCurtis v. Visconti, Boren &
Campbell, Ltd., 152 A.3d 413, 420-21 (R.I. 2017)
(quoting State v. Poulin, 66 A.3d 419, 423 (R.I.
2013)). "We do not weigh the evidence on certiorari, but
only conduct our review to examine questions of law raised in
the petition." WMS Gaming, Inc. v. Sullivan, 6
A.3d 1104, 1111 (R.I. 2010) (quoting State v.
Greenberg, 951 A.2d 481, 489 (R.I. 2008)). "Our
review of questions of law is de novo."
this Court granted the state's petition for a writ of
certiorari with direction to the parties to address the issue
of whether this Court's opinion in Diaz
"announced a new rule of law in light of our
holdings" in the cases listed above, we have determined
that we need not reach that question. After consideration of
the travel of this case, we conclude that the trial justice
erred in granting defendant's motion for a new trial by
exceeding the scope of this Court's remand ...