A former Hinsdale man serving 32 years in federal prison in connection with a 2017 sexual assault on a teenager has lost an appeal seeking a new trial.
Kurt R. Carpentino, 36, had challenged his conviction on the grounds that his recorded confession to police should have been excluded from the trial.
In a Jan. 17 opinion, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston disagreed, finding the confession was admissible.
“We find that the defendant agreed to waive his Miranda rights after the troopers repeatedly advised him of those rights and the consequences of his waiver,” wrote Judge Bruce M. Selya, referring to the required warning that a detainee has a right to remain silent and have an attorney present during questioning. “He made this choice freely, without coercion on the troopers’ part.”
The appeal sought to vacate Carpentino’s June 2018 conviction in U.S. District Court in Concord on a charge of transporting a minor across state lines for criminal sexual activity.
According to evidence presented at trial, Carpentino sexually assaulted a 14-year-old Hinsdale girl multiple times before coaxing her out of her bedroom one night in April 2017 and driving her to an abandoned motel in Rockingham, Vt. There, the girl testified, Carpentino gave her a beer before sexually assaulting her on a tarp spread across the floor.
Carpentino was arrested the next day in Springfield, Vt. What happened next was the subject of his appeal.
Early that afternoon, Carpentino agreed to waive his Miranda rights and speak to two Vermont State Police troopers, who pressed him on his claim that he had been driving around alone that night. Carpentino asked to talk to his lawyer. The troopers ended the questioning and returned him to his cell, though they did not give him access to a phone to call an attorney.
About 40 minutes later, Carpentino told the troopers he wanted to speak to them again. According to a transcript of the conversation, Carpentino seemed to go back and forth on whether he wished to consult an attorney before continuing.
“I can talk with you with a lawyer, right?” he asked at one point.
“You can, but usually that doesn’t happen,” one of the troopers responded.
Carpentino eventually agreed to again waive his Miranda rights. He then admitted to driving the girl into Vermont and sexually assaulting her.
Carpentino’s lawyers worked to undermine the confession at trial, claiming their client had been falsely accused. Scared and confused, they said, Carpentino gave in to the detectives’ pressure and told them what they wanted to hear.
His appeal contested U.S. District Court Judge Paul J. Barbadoro’s decision to allow the confession into evidence, arguing, among other things, that Carpentino’s mention of a lawyer was an invocation of his right to counsel and should have shut down the interview then and there.
Selya, however, found that Carpentino’s statements were ambiguous and, when troopers asked if he wanted to keep talking or speak to a lawyer, Carpentino did not end the interview.
Selya did fault police for not immediately allowing Carpentino access to a phone when he asked to call his lawyer after the first interview.
“We do not in any way condone the VSP’s failure to facilitate the defendant’s requested telephone call,” the judge wrote. “Best police practices plainly entail providing a suspect with prompt access to an attorney upon request.”
But, he added, he did not have enough information before him to assess why that request was not fulfilled right away.
Carpentino’s April 2017 arrest came less than a year after his release from prison on previous sexual assault charges. In 2003, Carpentino, then 19, was convicted of 12 felonies for sexually assaulting at least six different teenage girls in Hinsdale. He was released in August 2016.
Carpentino is being held at the Federal Correctional Institution Fairton in New Jersey, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ online inmate tracker. His release date is in 2046.