Judge won't be witness in manslaughter case

Superior Court Judge Kevin P. McMahon, who hands down rulings and sentencings at the busy Geographical Area 10 courthouse on Broad Street in New London, was in a different courthouse Tuesday, having received a subpoena to testify in the manslaughter case of a Rhode Island man he sent to prison for 15 months.

Attorney Kevin C. Barrs, a public defender in the Huntington Street court, where major crimes are handled, had subpoenaed the judge, saying McMahon's testimony was crucial in the case of Nicolas Chateauneuf. Barrs had filed a motion to dismiss the charges against his client, saying the state was subjecting his client to double jeopardy and violating his constitutional rights.

McMahon, minus his black robe, arrived at the Huntington Street court with an attorney from the Judicial Branch's legal services division, but he never made it to the witness stand. Another judge, Arthur C. Hadden, granted McMahon's motion to quash the subpoena. Hadden said a judge can be called to testify only in an extraordinary situation in which his testimony is crucial and cannot be elicited in another manner.

Having been released from the subpoena, the judge headed back to his own courthouse, saying, "You know where I am (if you need me)."

The prosecutor and public defender who had handled the case at GA10 did not get off as easily. Assistant State's Attorney Christa L. Baker and defense attorney Peter C. Rotella both spent time on the witness stand.

Chateauneuf, 30, of East Providence, allegedly failed to seek help for Edward Iacono, who died of a heroin overdose in the back seat of a Cadillac Escalade that Chateauneuf had rented for a Sept. 21, 2008, trip to Foxwoods.

A Foxwoods security officer stopped Chateauneuf's car for driving the wrong way in the Grand Pequot garage and noticed that the back- seat passenger, Iacono, was blue, cold to the touch and not breathing, according to state police. Iacono was pronounced dead at The William W. Backus Hospital.

Chateauneuf and a front- seat passenger, Raymond Linden of Providence, were charged in connection with the glassine bags of heroin recovered from the car's center console. Chateauneuf was charged additionally with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs and with cruelty to a person.

On March 4, 2009, he pleaded guilty to possession of heroin and driving under the influence before Judge McMahon in an agreement worked out among McMahon, Baker and Rotella. The cruelty to person charge was not prosecuted. Iacono's mother spoke at the sentencing, telling Chateauneuf he needed to get his life together. Chateauneuf apologized.

State police said they brought the manslaugther charges after interviewing Chateauneuf in prison in late March 2009 and obtaining a four-page statement from him. Chateauneuf had previously given police only an oral statement.

Chateauneuf and his attorney say he has already been sentenced in connection with Iacono's death, and are trying to persuade Hadden to dismiss the manslaughter charges.

Prosecutor Stephen M. Carney is arguing that new charges were brought based on new information and that the state and court never guaranteed Chateauneuf that he would not be further prosecuted.

The hearing is to resume today.

- Karen Florin


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