WAKEFIELD — The prosecutor in the Mandall Tripp manslaughter case continued to challenge inconsistencies in the testimony of members of Tripp’s family during the third day of his trial Thursday before a jury in Washington County Superior Court.
Assistant Attorney General Mark Trovato reminded witnesses of their previous statements to the police and a grand jury and pointed out what he said were discrepancies in those statements with their current testimony.
Tripp is charged in the death of Kevin P. Brown, 37, of South Kingstown, on Oct. 29, 2012, the day of Superstorm Sandy. Tripp, 42, is accused of stabbing Brown during an argument at 11A Marriott Ave., Westerly, where Tripp lived with his girlfriend, Darlene Hazard, her three children, and his son.
Testifying Thursday were Hazard’s son, Alan Carter, 16, and Tripp’s son, Jahmel Ramcharitar, 22.
The Westerly police said that Brown had gone to the house to confront Tripp; he died later at The Westerly Hospital after leaving the house and crashing his car.
On Wednesday, Hazard testified that she had been with Tripp for 11 years and that they lived together at the Marriott Avenue address. Trovato pointed out, however, that she had told a grand jury before Tripp’s indictment last year that he did not live with her, and had stayed with her only infrequently.
In continuing to point out changes in her statements, Trovato asked Hazard whether she was sure of her previous assertion that she had heard Tripp tell Brown, during the argument, that he had a knife and if he didn’t leave he would use it. Trovato also reminded her that she had said that Brown’s response was: “Stab me. Stab me.”
Hazard admitted that she had not heard that exchange.
Ramcharitar said he had been living at a home on White Rock Road with his grandmother, as well as the Marriott Avenue home, during the time of the incident. He described Brown’s appearance in the home during the storm as unexpected, heated, and said Tripp kept yelling at Brown to “get the expletive” out of the house. He said Tripp continually yelled at Brown to leave as he descended the stairs from his bedroom, having been alerted to the man being at the door.
Ramcharitar said that by the time his father was getting on his jeans, Brown had let himself into the house uninvited and was walking up the stairs in the direction of Tripp. “I’m pretty sure he was trying to make his way up the stairs,” he said.
He said there was “nothing calm” about the exchange between the two men. “There was pushing back and forth,” he told Trovato.
Both Carter and Ramcharitar said Brown looked “glassy-eyed” and that his words were slurred and “weren’t coming out right.” Ramcharitar described him as muttering.
Ramcharitar was asked if he heard his father mention the knife and his words to Brown. He answered he did not hear such a statement, nor did he know that Tripp had a knife.
The young men both testified Tripp was able to get the larger man out of the door.
It was at that time, according to the police, that Tripp stabbed Brown.
Much has been said during the trial about Brown being a much larger man, weighing over 200 pounds, while Tripp was shorter and lighter.
“It was the little man able to push the bigger man out of the house,” said Trovato.
Ramcharitar told Trovato that the disturbance “worried him.”
He said he was scared.
“Did you call police?” Trovato asked.
Tripp’s son said no, but that he was scared for his father, that “God forbid what if he punched my father in the head.”
“But he didn’t, right?” asked Trovato.
“No,” said Ramcharitar.
In earlier police reports it had been indicated that Brown had punched Tripp in the face.
Ramcharitar testified that he “could only see so much. I was scared for my life, kids were crying. I was frightened. I froze up.” He said that Brown could have threatened his father with physical violence.
“Could have,” said Trovato. The prosecutor asked if he heard Brown yell to his father, “We’re family, we’re family.” Ramcharitar said no.
William Murphy, Tripp’s defense attorney, asked Carter about Brown’s demeanor during the incident, to which he replied that he seemed to be “on something, crazy, drunk.”
Trovato asked Carter why he had not shared that observation with the police when he was interviewed after the incident.
Both of the young men were brought to the police station. Carter replied that he wasn’t asked that particular question by the police.
The Rhode Island medical examiner was expected to testify today. Judge Melanie Wilk Thunberg is presiding.
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