Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin announced that Jose Morales (age 24), of Providence, today pleaded nolo contendere to one count of second degree murder before Superior Court Justice Kristin E. Rodgers for the June 2016 murder of his friend Kip Stewart. Under the terms of the plea, Morales was sentenced to 50 years with 35 years to serve and the remainder suspended with probation.
Had the case proceeded to trial, the State was prepared to prove that on June 18, 2016 in the courtyard of the Hartford Projects, Morales and a group of friends got into an argument with another group of individuals. The argument turned physical, when Morales removed a .32 caliber pistol from his waistband and fired it at the opposing group, striking his friend Kip Stewart in the forehead. Stewart passed away two days later as a result of the gunshot wound.
"A group of young men fighting over absolutely nothing of value turned murderous when the defendant pulled out and fired his gun hoping to strike the perceived enemy only to kill his friend. This type of senseless and completely avoidable violence is unfortunately all too often in our urban core, and it needs to end," said Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin.
During the plea hearing, prosecutors praised the work of the Providence Police as well as the numerous witnesses who came forward to share details of the account with the police that led to the arrest of the defendant.
Providence Police Detectives Jonathan Primiano and Michael Otrando led the investigation. Assistant Attorney General Daniel Carr Guglielmo and Special Assistant Attorney General Alison DeCosta prosecuted the case on behalf of the Office of the Attorney General.