After being stabbed 20 times in the driveway of her Cranston home last July, Andrea Wilmot, 22, and her mother, Colleen, would like to add attempted murder to a bill that would prohibit prisoners convicted of and serving sentences for certain crimes from earning credits toward early release.
However, Colleen isn’t optimistic it will be included in the legislation, which was drafted by Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin and introduced by Representative Teresa Tanzi on his behalf.
In a phone interview Tuesday morning, Colleen said Tanzi informed her that even if the crime is incorporated and the bill is passed, it’s likely that Wilmot’s attacker, Chris Amaral of 28 Roosevelt Drive in Bristol, will not be impacted, as his offense occurred before the legislation was even drafted. According to Colleen, Tanzi said he would fall under the old statute and still be able to earn good time credits.
“Possibly, we could get it in and have it applied to future victims, but it’s upsetting to not have Andrea get the justice she deserves,” said Colleen. “I’m going to have a hell of a fight on my hands, but I will still keep on fighting for it.”
Additionally, she feels frustrated that attempted murder wasn’t included in the bill in the first place. She argued that the crime is just as severe as the five that are already incorporated in the legislation, such as murder, kidnapping of a minor, first-degree sexual assault, first-degree child molestation sexual assault and second-degree child molestation sexual assault.
“Did somebody not think it is serious enough?” said Colleen.
Further, Amaral is yet to be sentenced. The trial, Colleen said, is anticipated to take place late this year. At the moment, Amaral is on home confinement.
Wilmot and Colleen attended last week’s House Judiciary Committee hearing at the State House and testified in support of the legislation, along with seven others. The family of Jason Foreman also testified.
Michael Woodmansee murdered Jason at the age of five in 1975 and Woodmansee’s 40-year sentence was reduced by 12 years due to “good time” credits the killer earned for good behavior. He was sentenced in 1983 after pleading guilty to second-degree murder.
At the hearing, Kilmartin said he drafted the bill after he appointed a group of senior attorneys in his office to review the current good behavior system. He was horrified that there was a possibility that Woodmansee’s sentence would be shortened.
If approved, the “good time” bill would take effect on July 1 and inmates would be prohibited from earning good time credits at the Adult Correctional Institute (ACI). Under the legislation, however, they would not lose any credits.
The House held the bill because the Criminal Oversight Justice Committee, (CJOC) which consists of 11 members, is reviewing the issuing of good time credits. Their report is due April 2.
In an e-mail from Amy Kempe, Kilmartin’s spokesperson, she said Kilmartin is sympathetic to the case and applauds their commitment to speak out the deficiencies in the statute.
Kempe said he feels the Wilmots make a compelling argument for including assault with intent to murder, or attempted murder, and is, “bringing this request to the attention and consideration of the CJOC. It has been made clear that the House will be taking direction from the CJOC.”
Also, A.T. Wall, the director of the Rhode Island Department of Corrections, attended the meeting and discussed the fiscal impact of the bill if approved, as well as potential population issues.
He said the number of inmates whose length of stay would be affected is approximately 500. Moreover, he said cost is not yet determined.
Steven Brown, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, told the committee he agreed that population could exceed maximum capacity upon passage.
Robert Lantagne, second vice president of the Rhode Island Brotherhood of Correction Officers, also was present and argued that fiscal issues should not hold so much weight on the bill.
Colleen said she plans to compose a letter and submit it to the CJOC, as well as the House, requesting they incorporate attempted murder to the bill.
To further encourage the CJOC and the House, the Wilmot’s created an online petition at www.change.org/petitions/andrea on Sunday. So far, 175 people have signed it.
“They are from all over Rhode Island and even Connecticut and Massachusetts,” Colleen said.
Wilmot, a 2008 Cranston West graduate who is attending the University of Rhode Island and will be earning her degree in May, said she met Amaral at Seabra Supermarket on Pontiac Avenue in Cranston, where they both worked. After allegedly slashing her tires, he was fired by the store. Colleen said Amaral had sought to date her daughter but she had refused.
During the incident, Andrea was stabbed in the head, neck, shoulders, chest and arms before Amaral fled the scene. The tip of the knife was logged in her skull, which Colleen said might have saved her life, as the lacerations made afterwards were not as deep as previous ones he made.
“He wasn’t making full impact,” she said. “I also heard her screaming so I interrupted him.”
Wilmot’s injuries were treated at Rhode Island Hospital by 16 surgeons. She was hospitalized for nine days and continues to undergo physical and occupational therapy.