PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) - The RI Supreme Court has denied the appeal of a Woonsocket man convicted of viciously beating to death a 3-year-old boy.
Gilbert Delestre was convicted Dec. 4, 2008 of second-degree murder and conspiracy in the death of Thomas "TJ" Wright.
Superior Court Judge Nettie Vogel sentenced him to life for the child's murder and 10 years for the conspiracy charge. The sentence was the maximum under Rhode Island law.
Delestre's lawyers requested a new trial Sept. 28, 2011, claiming the judge in Delestre's trial made errors in her instructions to the jury.
Prosecutors said Delestre and his girlfriend, Katherine Bunnell, returned home from a night of drinking in October 2004 to find a mess. Outraged, the couple pulled the toddler out of bed and beat him.
During his testimony, Delestre admitted to striking the child on the head, but said he didn't mean to kill him.
Bunnell, who is Wright's aunt, was convicted in May 2008 of second-degree murder and conspiracy. She received a life sentence, but will be eligible for parole in less than 25 years.
Bunnell and Delestre were caring for Wright and his brothers because the children's mother was in prison. The case sparked an investigation in to the state's foster care system.