PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The Rhode Island Parole Board has backed off its decision to grant early release to a man convicted of a brutal "thrill kill" and will take another look at the case, the Target 12 Investigators have learned.
The move comes after a series of reports by Target 12 this week revealed Alfred Brissette – who was convicted along with another man in the 1999 murder of a Woonsocket woman – was set to be released after serving only 13 years of a 35-year sentence.
The parole board had voted earlier this month to release Brissette in December, but in a statement Wednesday its administrator Matt Degnan said the board's chairman decided to keep Brissette behind bars so the full board can revisit his case on Dec. 17.
"The plan that was presented to the parole board has been reviewed and is not appropriate at this time," Degnan said. "So we will review this case and make appropriate decisions in December."
Degnan declined to elaborate further on the concerns he has about Brissette's plan.
In 2004, Brissette pleaded no contest to murder charges for his role in the murder of Jeanette Descoteaux. Court records say Brissette and his co-conspirator, Marc Girard, lured the woman to the woods of Burrillville with a promise to supply her with cocaine.
According to court documents, Brissette and Girard "had conspired to kill and bury a random female victim" 18 months prior to the murder, even going so far as to purchase a shovel with the intent of digging a grave.
According to a graphic description of the crime, Girard left the vehicle to relieve himself when the three arrived at George Washington Park in Burrillville. Brissette then demanded Descoteaux have sex with him in exchange for cocaine.
"After that, Brissette reached into the back of the Blazer for a plastic bag containing a lug wrench and smashed it into Jeanette's head," according to court records. "Jeanette was stunned and asked Brissette what he was doing, to which he responded by again striking her head with the lug wrench."
Still naked, Descoteaux ran from her attackers through the woods, but the men eventually caught up and began beating her with a lug wrench and a shovel.
Court records say Girard confessed to police that he dealt the fatal blow: "I was just trying to put her out of her misery. I didn't want her laying out there for days still alive, bleeding."
Girard was sentenced to life behind bars and lost a bid for another trial.
Brissette was sentenced to 60 years with 35 to serve and was scheduled to be released in 2034, but he earned more than 1,600 days of "good time" credit, moving his release date up to 2028, according to the R.I. Department of Corrections.
After serving seven years of his sentence Brissette wrote a letter to Superior Court Judge Judith Savage asking for a reduced sentence. In it he reflected on the crime.
"Many day's go by that I have nightmares of what had taken place and every time I wake up, I wish that I could apologize personally [sic] to the family of my victim for the loss that they had to suffer because of my actions." Brissette wrote. "I wish that I could bring Mrs. Descoteaux back so that I can make everything allright [sic] again but I know I can't."
Brissette included a stack or certificates he received in prison for completing educational and spiritual course. One of them was for completing a "Way to Happiness" course and an art class – which was awarded on the fifth anniversary of Descoteaux's murder.
Earlier this week Degnan said he didn't have an exact date for Brissette's release and wasn't allowed to make details about it public, though he said Brissette would be supervised as a parolee until 2028.
In a statement earlier this week, the parole board said Brissette had never been disciplined in his 14 years at the Adult Correctional Institutions in Cranston.
"The board was impressed with inmate's program participation and his documented plan for change," according to the statement. "Further, the Parole Board did not receive [any] objection letter from the [attorney general's] office or the victim's family."
The Parole Board supplied Target 12 with minutes from the meeting that show the four members present considering Brissette's case voted unanimously to release him. Those members were chairman Dr. Kenneth Walker and board members Anne Nolan from Crossroads Rhode Island, former U.S. Attorney Margaret Curran and psychiatrist Charles Denby.
A spokesperson said in the wake of the Target 12 reports a friend of the victim contacted their office and they put them in touch with the Parole Board. It is unclear if testimony will be allowed at the December hearing.
"The Office needs to review this latest decision by the Parole Board to determine how the Office can and may proceed," said spokesperson Amy Kempe. "In this specific case, the Office of Attorney General believed the facts of the case and the violent nature of the crime would have been evident to the members of the Parole Board when making their decision."
Copyright WPRI 12