PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The Rhode Island Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that DNA collected by pepper spraying a man who’s accused of murder can be used in court, striking down a Superior Court judge’s ruling.
In a 4-to-1 decision, the state Supreme Court ordered the Superior Court to allow the evidence in a murder trial against Malcolm Querido in connection to the 2014 stabbing of Robert Bullard, the Providence Journal reported.
While in the Adult Correctional Institution’s custody, Querido refused to grant a DNA sample to confirm a preliminary match from blood droplets left at the crime scene. The droplets matched a DNA sample from Querido in a government database.
Police and correctional officers used pepper spray to get Querido out of his cell, strapped him to a chair and forcibly collected a cheek swab, according to the newspaper.
Superior Court Judge Robert D. Krause, who previously granted the defenses motion to exclude the sample, said that the video of the incident was “one of the most disturbing clips I have seen in a long, long time.”
“It reflected conduct of law enforcement officers … acting in a most unsettling manner. And I use ‘unsettling’ charitably,” Krause said.
Justice Maureen McKenna Goldberg wrote in the Supreme Court’s statement that “the use of force in this case was objectively reasonable … because the intrusion into the defendant’s Fourth Amendment interests was minimal and was far outweighed by the countervailing government interests.”
Judith Crowell, Querido’s lawyer, said “I respect the court’s decision, but I disagree.”
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