RI Supreme Court: Convicted killer should get new hearing

Jeremy Motyka in a previous court appearance.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A man currently serving a life sentence without parole for the murder of a Little Compton woman should get a new appeal hearing, the Rhode Island Supreme Court has ruled.

Angela Spence-Shaw

The Supreme Court announced Tuesday it was vacating a 2014 Superior Court ruling denying Jeremy Motyka’s request for post-conviction relief. In its ruling, justices raised doubts about the hearing leading up to the judge’s decision to deny Motyka’s appeal.

A jury convicted Motyka in 2001 of first-degree murder and first-degree sexual assault for the 1999 death of 66-year-old Angela Spence-Shaw in her Little Compton home.

Amy Kempe, a spokesperson for the R.I. attorney general’s office, released a statement Tuesday stressing that the decision does not affect Motyka’s conviction.

“The Rhode Island Supreme Court has previously found that a first time petitioner seeking relief from a life without parole sentence is entitled to an evidentiary hearing before the court can dismiss the post-conviction relief application. In this case, the Supreme Court found that the Superior Court erred in not providing Motyka the evidentiary hearing as part of his post-conviction relief petition. Because there was no evidentiary hearing, the Supreme Court remanded the matter back to Superior Court for an evidentiary hearing. The decision does not overturn the conviction itself. Nor does it weigh in on the merits of the post-conviction relief application by Motyka. The State is confident that after an evidentiary hearing on the post-conviction relief matter, the Superior Court will dismiss the petition as meritless.”