Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin announced that Jared Tefft (DOB: 6/6/83), with a last known address of 110 Woody Hill Road, Hopkinton, RI, today pleaded nolo contendere before Superior Court Justice Melanie Wilk Thunberg for the January 26, 2011 murder of Peter Newman.
In accordance with the plea agreement, Tefft was sentenced to 60 years, with 40 to serve and the remainder suspended with probation, to run concurrent, on the counts of murder and first degree arson, and one year, to run concurrent, on the count of simple assault. The plea agreement was made after consultation with the victim's family.
Had the case proceeded to trial, the State was prepared to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that on January 26, 2011, Jared Tefft assaulted Peter Newman, rendering him unconscious. In an attempt to cover up the assault, Tefft set fire to the house with the victim in it.
On January 26, 2011, Matthew Tefft, the brother of the defendant, called the Rhode Island State Police to report a murder. He told the police that the defendant had told him he fought with and killed Peter Newman. Matthew Tefft was unable to provide the State Police with a specific address of where the crime took place. Eventually Troopers located the residence and observed it to be smoldering. The Hopkinton Fire Department was called to the scene and extinguished the fire. The State Police located the body of the victim in a hallway of the residence.
A short time later, Jared Tefft was apprehended by Patrolman Daniel Kelley of the Richmond Police Department after Patrolman Kelley spotted the suspect's vehicle traveling onto Main Street at 4:30 AM. Richmond Police notified the State Police, and Tefft was turned over to the State Police at the scene at the Cumberland Farms in the Wyoming section of Richmond.
The medical examiner determined that Newman was alive at the time the fires were set, and that his cause of death was smoke inhalation, carbon monoxide poisoning and blunt force trauma.
"Peter Newman was a beloved son, brother and father to three children. Although nothing can bring their loved one back, I hope it brings the family comfort to see justice served," said Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin. "I commend the work of investigators and prosecutors, whose combined efforts brought this case to resolution."
Rhode Island State Police Corporal Shelley A. O'Neill led the investigation. Assistant Attorney General Mark Trovato and Special Assistant Attorney General Amy Dodge Murray prosecuted the case on behalf of the Office of Attorney General.