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Wayne Chiappini

Other Plymouth County Cases
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On February 2, 2006, 48-year-old Wayne Chiappini and his girlfriend, Linda Oliver, were in the bar of Pomodores Restaurant in Wareham, Massachusetts when another customer, Susan Lovell, claimed she saw Chiappini strike Oliver.

Lovell approached Oliver and walked with her into the bathroom. Lovell later said that Chiappini came into the bathroom, shoved her out of the way, and left with Oliver.

Lovell told her boyfriend, 40-year-old Timothy Guinazzo, that she had been shoved. Guinazzo went to the parking lot and confronted Chiappini, who was sitting in his car with Oliver.

A fight ensued and ended with Chiappini slashing Guinazzo in the neck, an injury that required 27 stitches. Police were summoned and arrested Guinazzo at the scene and Chiappini at his home. Chiappini was charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon against Guinazzo and assault and battery against Lovell. Guinazzo was charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon for banging Chiappini’s head against the asphalt parking lot during the fight.

Chiappini went to trial in Wareham District Court in July 2006. Lovell testified that after Chiappini shoved her, she told Guinazzo, who then went outside the bar.

Guinazzo told the jury that he paid his tab and left the restaurant. Outside, he heard a loud argument and saw Chiappini sitting inside a car with Oliver beside him in the passenger seat. Guinazzo said the driver’s side window was halfway down and they were screaming at each other. Guinazzo walked over and asked Chiappini what his problem was.

Guinazzo said Chiappini swore at him and shoved open the car door, striking him in the legs and sending him backwards. He said he lunged forward and punched Chiappini in the head through the open window. Chiappini then got out of the car and they “kind of both went at each other.”

Guinazzo testified that during the fight, he punched Chiappini in the chest and Chiappini swung a knife in his left hand. Guinazzo said he felt the knife go into his neck and then managed to get away.

The prosecutor asked Guinazzo what he had been using to hit the defendant with in the moments before the defendant slashed him with the knife.

“My fist,” Guinazzo said.

“And no other instrument?” the prosecutor asked.

“No,” Guinazzo replied.

Chiappini testified that Guinazzo dragged him out of the car and began pummeling him, knocking him to the ground. He said he took the knife from his pocket to show Guinazzo in the hope that Guinazzo would stop fighting. Chiappini said Guinazzo nevertheless kept hitting him and began kicking him. Guinazzo then pounded Chiappini’s head into the asphalt.

Chiappini testified that he began swinging his arms at Guinazzo. He denied striking Guinazzo with the knife and said he didn’t know that Guinazzo had been cut. Chiappini said that Guinazzo backed off and walked away, so he took the opportunity to get back in his car and “got the heck out of there.”

On July 19, 2006, the jury acquitted Chiappini of assaulting Lovell, but convicted him of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon against Guinazzo. The judge sentenced Chiappini to two and a half years in prison.

In January 2007, Guinazzo pled guilty to charges of assault and battery against Chiappini and threatening to commit a crime. During the plea hearing, Guinazzo admitted that he had dragged Chiappini out of his car, punched him in the head and pounded his head against the asphalt.

Chiappini moved for a new trial. He argued that Guinazzo’s admission was newly discovered evidence that contradicted his testimony at Chiappini’s trial.

The trial court judge denied the motion. In July 2008, the Appeals Court of Massachusetts vacated that ruling and sent the case back to the trial court.

The appeals court noted that the prosecutor, during closing argument in Chiappini’s trial, urged the jury to reject Chiappini’s account of the fight and to accept Guinazzo’s testimony that both men were standing when Chiappini slashed him. “Apparently the jury heeded the prosecutor,” the appeals court said. “But it is one thing for a combatant to slash with a knife at his unarmed opponent in the middle of a fistfight when both are standing, and quite another thing if he does so when pinned to the ground under attack… At the very least, therefore, we think that additional and specific findings on the probable impact of Guinazzo’s admission are necessary before (Chiappini’s) new trial motion can be justly denied.”

Following a hearing, however, Chiappini’s motion for new trial was again denied. The trial judge ruled that Guinazzo’s admission, even if known during Chiappini’s trial, would not have changed the jury’s guilty verdict.

In January 2010—long after Chiappini had completed his prison term—the appeals court vacated his conviction and ordered a new trial. It noted that “Guinazzo's admission specifically contradicts his trial testimony that (Chiappini) “never went to the ground,” that Guinazzo “didn't punch anybody ... [who] was on the ground,” and that Guinazzo "did not make a statement to the police that the defendant hit the ground.”

The court held that when the case was examined as a whole and Guinazzo's admission was placed in context, “the admission would probably have been a real factor” in the jury's deliberations.

On May 25, 2010, the prosecution dismissed the charge. Chiappini later filed a lawsuit seeking compensation from the state of Massachusetts, but the suit was unsuccessful.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 9/30/2016
State:Massachusetts
County:Plymouth
Most Serious Crime:Assault
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:2006
Convicted:2006
Exonerated:2010
Sentence:2 years and six months
Race:Caucasian
Sex:Male
Age at the date of crime:48
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No