Baribault found guilty in murder of Capt. Fredy

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Warwick resident Richard Baribault, 42, one of two men accused in the slaying of Fernando Silva, a sailing nomad known affectionately as “Captain Fredy,” in the early morning hours of August 1, 2015 on his boat at Warwick Cove Marina, was found guilty by a jury on Friday after a day of deliberation of first degree murder, conspiracy to commit robbery, possession of an illegal weapon, driving with a suspended license and receiving stolen property.

The case was heard by Superior Court justice, Brian P. Stern. Warwick Police Detective Sgt. Mark Canning and Lt. Scott Robillard led the investigation and Special Assistant Attorneys General Timothy Healy and Matthew LaMountain prosecuted the case on behalf of the Office of Attorney General. Baribault was represented by Mark Smith and is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 15, 2017.

The jury heard closing statements on Thursday at Kent County Superior Court, signifying the end of the three-week trial.

During the defense’s closing statement, Smith tried to paint the picture that Baribault was simply helping out his friend, Troy Gunderway (who pled guilty to his role in the killing in March), in the aftermath of a robbery-gone-wrong that was fully organized by Gunderway.

“My client is guilty of stupidity for helping his friend, Troy,” Smith said, adding that the state did not provide enough evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Baribault was actually on the boat that night with Gunderway.

Smith argued that Warwick police lied to Baribault on the night of Aug 19, 2015 when he was interviewed in regards to the incident, claiming that he was only being held on misdemeanor charges and that he would be able to go home if he told them the version of the story that they “wanted to hear.”

Finally, Smith implored the jury to discredit the testimony of Gunderway, who confirmed that Baribault was an active party in the robbery and contributed to the beating that led to Silva’s death. Smith said that Gunderway inaccurately described the injuries that Silva sustained in the beating, and had an agenda to sell out Baribault to shave time off his own sentence due to a plea deal he made with the state.

“That’s what this is all about. Do you believe Troy Gunderway?” said Smith, adding later that, “No one should die like that...But the only evidence is that [Baribault] helped him after the fact...not that he participated in the acts.”

Healy began the prosecution’s closing remarks by describing Captain Fredy as “a character” who lived on his boat, the “Star Capella.” Captain Fredy bought the 26-foot Columbia for $1. He often anchored the boat off Conimicut during the summer between excursions to different parts of the bay, such as Potter’s Cove on Prudence Island where he would spent two to three weeks before pushing on.

“It wasn’t the nicest boat, but he seemed happy,” Healy said, before walking over to Baribault, looking at him and calling him a “coward...who punched a 70-year-old man. That father, that veteran,” and then left him on his boat “to decompose, to be eaten by maggots...that’s the kind of coward we’re dealing with.”

Healy then went through all the evidence that the state felt proved, well beyond a reasonable doubt, that Baribault was indeed a co-conspirator in the robbery as well as an active party in the beating and the subsequent cover-up of the murder.

GPS data confirmed that Baribault was at Warwick Cove Marina on the night of the murder. Blood belonging to Captain Fredy was found in the crevice of the 3.5-inch folding knife that belonged to Baribault and GPS data once again confirmed that the two had gone back and forth from Warwick Cove Marina many times, day and night, in the days following the incident. Text messages and phone call logs revealed the two were in constant contact in the days following the murder.

Healy played an audio clip of a voice-query that Baribault had made on his phone on Aug. 2, 2015 the morning after the murder took place. In the clip, Baribault can be heard asking, “Does bleach kill everything, including skin cells?”

Baribault and Gunderway were both seen by a dockworker while attempting to move Captain Fredy’s boat with a new motor when the boat’s standard motor wouldn’t start. They were caught on surveillance video outside the boat multiple times.

Baribault made another voice query that was played where he asked to find a boat motor mechanic in Warwick, and another one where he attempted to find towns in Rhode Island that had trash pickup on Fridays, indicating, according to Healy, Baribault’s desperation to move the boat, clean its contents and cover up the crime.

Gunderway was eventually successful in moving Captain Fredy’s boat, but the presence of the harbormaster made him alter his plan to take the boat out to sea and dump the body. He instead had to anchor the boat further in the cove and took the dingy back to shore, where Baribault was waiting for him.

When the two came back to check on the boat, they found that it had been moved.

In the interim a severe storm – a macroburst – hit the area sending the boat adrift. Harbormaster Jeff Baris secured the vessel to a mooring near the mouth of the cove, but it was not for another couple of weeks before it was discovered to contain Captain Fredy’s decomposed body.

Healy played another audio-query from Baribault’s phone, which asked, “Where would Warwick harbormaster take a towed boat?”

Healy said that the testimony of Gunderway was especially important, because he was accurate in his depiction of the events that occurred in the days after the murder without being aware that the state had GPS data to confirm his testimony. Additionally, Healy said, Gunderway, 46, had little to gain by lying because he was already facing 40 years in prison, even with his plea deal.

Healy then turned the jury’s attention to statements made by Baribault that were caught on surveillance video when he was left alone while being interviewed by Warwick police.

“I’m ****ed,” he said. “I’m ***ed. Oh no, I’m ****ed man. ****ed up. Going to jail for the rest of my life, bro. They’re going to ****ing put me...and I’m never leaving jail again.”

With all the evidence laid out, the prosecution concluded its statements and left the fate of Baribault in the hands of the jury.

“What a coward he is. That’s what we see,” Healy said. “We see how he assaulted a 70-year-old man in the dark. He’s been exposed now. He’s been exposed through all the evidence...I’m asking you to find this coward guilty.”

As outlined by witness testimony and the evidence collected, Baribault and Gunderway snuck onto Captain Fredy’s boat as it was docked in Warwick Cove as part of a plan to steal a few hundred dollars that he had won playing Keno a few nights prior. Gunderson testified that he and Baribault had been drinking and using crack-cocaine on the night of the murder. Baribault remains held without bail pending sentencing.

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