A brain-damaged man who was convicted of killing his wife's 88-year-old grandmother in Manchester lost another legal appeal Wednesday.
The state Appellate Court in Hartford ruled unanimously against Richard Lapointe's request to introduce additional evidence that his attorney said would prove his innocence.
Lapointe was convicted in 1992 of a capital felony in the death of Bernice Martin. He was spared the death penalty, but was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of release.
Martin was strangled, raped and stabbed in her apartment at a housing complex for the elderly in Manchester. The killer set the apartment on fire and left her to die.
Lapointe's tested IQ is within the normal range, but he was born with a brain abnormality known as Dandy Walker syndrome. Many people who knew him perceived him as mildly retarded, and his supporters argue that his mental limits made him vulnerable to a coerced confession.
The main evidence against Lapointe included three confessions he signed in 1989 in more than nine hours of interrogation by Manchester police.
The Appellate Court ruled that the Hartford Superior Court did not abuse its discretion by refusing to reopen the evidence portion of the hearing.
Lapointe was seeking "to retry most of his case and initiate new defense theories," the judges ruled.
The state Supreme Court in 1996 upheld Lapointe's conviction and a Superior Court judge in September 2000 dismissed a request by Lapointe to submit evidence proving he could not have committed the crimes.
Timothy J. Sugrue, senior assistant state's attorney, praised the ruling Wednesday.
"In my opinion, this was a slam dunk for the state from day one," he said. "The issues were pretty much frivolous in this case."
Paul Casteleiro, Lapointe's Hoboken, N.J., attorney, criticized the appeals court for failing to take up the "substance of the issues."
Allowing the defense to introduce evidence would prove it was impossible for Lapointe to have committed the crime, he said.
Casteleiro said he is considering appealing to the state Supreme Court or refiling the case.
"We're not going away with this," he said. "The guy is innocent. We're not going to pack up and leave."