State Supreme Court upholds child abuse conviction.


Byline: Correy E. Stephenson

A defendant convicted of second-degree child abuse was not entitled to reversal of the lower court judgment despite his arguments that a medical doctor's testimony was improperly admitted and that the trial judge failed to consider a lesser-included offense, the Rhode Island Supreme Court has ruled.

The Supreme Court was similarly unpersuaded that the defendant deserved a new trial in the case, which involved an incident with his 9-year-old half-sister.

"After a thorough review of the record in this case, we are of the opinion that the trial justice has not overlooked or misconceived relevant material evidence, and that he was not otherwise clearly wrong when he denied defendant's motion," Chief Justice Paul A. Suttell wrote for the court. "The trial justice carefully considered the defendant's arguments in support of his motion for a new trial, and reiterated his finding that the physical-injury requirement of the statute had been met on the facts of the case as established by the evidence at trial."

Robert B. Mann, who represented the defendant, said he was disappointed in the decision, calling it the latest in a line of cases from the Rhode Island Supreme Court taking a hard line on the "raise or waive" rule.

"The decision is another warning from the court that you need to be very meticulous if you want to preserve an argument for appeal," the Providence lawyer said. "Obviously, many defendants would like to see a relaxation of that rule."

Virginia McGinn of the Attorney General's Office represented the state. She declined to comment on the case.

The 24-page decision is State v. Cahill, Lawyers Weekly No. 60-098-18. The full text of the ruling can be found here.

'Surprisingly mature and articulate'

On Aug. 20, 2012, 9-year-old Abigail and her 14-year-old sister, Beth, were dropped off at their father's house in Woonsocket by their mother, Danielle, on her way to work. (The court used pseudonyms for the girls.)

Defendant Patrick Cahill, who shared a father with the girls, was at the house along with his girlfriend, Amanda Paquette.

During the bench trial, the girls testified that they initially hung out with the 23-year-old Cahill in his bedroom until Abigail wanted to play outside. When he refused, Abigail went outside anyway. The girls testified that Cahill chased Abigail, grabbed her by her ponytail, and dragged her back into the house, where he threw her on the couch.

Abigail told the court Cahill placed...

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