PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Attorney General Peter F. Neronha announced today that a Cranston man has been sentenced in Providence County Superior Court to serve five years at the Adult Correctional Institution (ACI) for violently assaulting a 64-year-old man and his adult son during a 2018 altercation.
On October 12, 2023, Superior Court Justice Joseph A. Montalbano sentenced Willard Whiting (age 50) to 15 years, with five years to serve at the ACI, and a 10-year suspended sentence with 15 years of probation. Judge Montalbano also ordered the defendant to have no contact with the victims and to complete anger management counseling.
On July 6, 2023, a jury found the defendant guilty of one count of felony assault resulting in serious bodily injury and one count of felony assault on a person over the age of 60.
During the trial, the State proved beyond a reasonable doubt on July 22, 2018, the defendant assaulted two victims, one of whom was over 60 years old, after the victims witnessed the defendant harassing a woman and subsequently intervened. The defendant knocked both victims down and assaulted them while they were on the ground.
“The severity of this sentence reflects the severity of the violence committed by the defendant,” said Attorney General Peter F. Neronha. “One of the victims needed intensive rehabilitation for his injuries and the other victim is over the age of 60, therefore making this a case of elder abuse. This sentence sends a strong message that this type of behavior will not be tolerated in Rhode Island. I am grateful to the Cranston Police Department for their outstanding work and partnership during the investigation and prosecution of this case.”
In the early morning hours of July 18, 2018, while riding a motorcycle, the defendant approached his wife, who was walking on Walnut Grove Avenue, and screamed at her to get on the bike. Close by at their place of business, the victims heard the screaming and went over to check on the woman’s well-being. When they arrived, the defendant got off his motorcycle and struck both men, knocking them to the ground. After they fell, the defendant continued to physically assault them before fleeing on his motorcycle.
Rescue personnel transported both victims to Kent Hospital, where they were treated for their injuries. The defendant inflicted serious bodily injuries to the face and head of the younger victim that required subsequent surgery.
Two witnesses on scene recounted what transpired, and their version of events corroborated statements given by the victims. One of the witnesses provided a description of the motorcycle to police dispatch, including the license plate number, which helped them identify the defendant as its owner.
Investigators compiled a photo lineup, which included the defendant, and one of the victims positively identified him as the assailant. They then sought a warrant for the defendant’s arrest and the defendant turned himself in on July 23, 2018.
“The Cranston Police Department diligently works to keep our communities safe from violence and hold accountable those who perpetrate these offenses,” said Cranston Police Chief Col. Michael J. Winquist. “The victims’ injuries in this case were substantial, and in the case of one of the victims, permanent. This attack was completely unprovoked on citizens, only seeking to help a motorist. I am grateful for the work of our detectives and officers, as well as the Attorney General’s Office, during the investigation and prosecution of this case.”
Special Assistant Attorneys General Molly Kapstein Cote and Jillian Dubois of the Office of the Attorney General and Detective Jonathan Nelson of the Cranston Police Department led the investigation and prosecution of the case.