A mentally disabled man who has served 23 years in prison for a 1987 murder is out on bail following a court order for a new trial.
A Hartford Superior Court judge on Friday set bond at $250,000 for 69-year-old Richard Lapointe, which was posted. His lawyers said their client will be staying with a couple in East Hartford as prosecutors decide whether to re-try him.
Lapointe came out of the courthouse looking frail. He's hard of hearing, has poor eyesight, and has trouble maintaining his balance. But he left Hartford Superior Court with a big smile. He was wearing a black t-shirt that read, "I didn't do it."
Lapointe was previously convicted of murdering his then-wife's grandmother. He has been in prison since 1989, when he was arrested and charged.
The state Supreme Court ruled on March 31 that Lapointe was deprived of a fair trial, because prosecutors failed to disclose notes by a police officer that may have supported an alibi defense.
One supporter, Anne Treimanis, is a lawyer herself and doesn't expect a new trial for her friend. "If they do, he's gonna be innocent," she said.
Murder charges have been re-filed, but prosecutor Gail Hardy said the state has not decided whether it will go ahead with another trial.
While staying in East Hartford, Lapointe will be under supervision and can have no contact with the victim's family.
As Lapointe left the courthouse with his lawyers, a friend handed him a penny she found on the ground to mark the day of his release. She told him to put it in his pocket. "I'll never take it out," Lapointe said.
This report includes information from The Associated Press.