I-Team: Freddie Bishop claims new evidence will clear him
His neatly combed hair is a little grayer. His face is more chiseled, accompanied by a few more scars. Alfred "Freddie" Bishop is now 71 years old and serving a life sentence, with no chance of parole, as a two-time convicted murderer.
In an exclusive I-Team interview, Bishop said Rhode Island's state prison does not feel like home, despite spending 39 of the last 40 years locked up behind bars and barbed wire. Police will tell you there's a good reason he's been incarcerated. "He's a career violent criminal," said Deputy Chief Michael Babula of the Warwick Police.
With close ties to Rhode Island's mob, Bishop made a name for himself on the street in the 60s and early 70s. He was tough, feared, and brazen enough to punch a police officer or pull a trigger. In December of 1973, a 31-year-old Bishop, wearing a blue tailored suit and shielding his face from a Channel 10 camera, was hauled in by Warwick Police for the shotgun murder of James Dunn.
The footage was found in the NBC 10 film archives. Police reports said Dunn asked for a priest knowing he was dying, but before his last breath, gave a final declaration to detectives whispering Freddie Bishop, his friend, had shot him. Glass shards from Dunn's blasted out window were found on Bishop's trousers. He was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison.
Bishop spent the next 33 years locked up. At one point he was shipped out of Rhode Island to Pennsylvania and New Hampshire in a prison shake-up that sent some of the older inmates packing. Much to the dismay of law enforcement, who kept close tabs on
Bishop over the years, he eventually received parole in 2006. But his time away from the aging block walls of the ACI was short lived.
The crackle of the 911 call rolls on a tape cassette recorder, obtained by the I-Team through a court order. It's June 2007. The frantic call came in from the Warwick home of Ceasar and Claire Medeiros. "Someone has entered their house, confronted them, shot all three of them, killed her brother in law, there's blood everywhere," said Babula, who was the detective captain in charge of the investigation. Gabriel Medeiros, 35, died from a gunshot wound after a struggle with a masked intruder, who escaped after being badly beaten with a golf club.
A police sketch of the intruder was released to the public, tips followed, so did the mention of a strong resemblance to a recently paroled Freddie Bishop. After a run around, detectives located the ex-con who had strikingly similar wounds to what the masked man would have had, according to the victims. "He originally told us he had sustained the injuries at his place of work and the briefest of checks with his employer showed that was simply not true," added Babula.
Bishop's DNA was also found at the scene. He was tried and convicted for murder once again, having been a free man for only nine months. This time there was no chance of parole. He appealed. That too was denied.
But now a new petition is before the court. Freddie Bishop is asking for a new trial. He says there is new evidence that was discovered after the trial. And says if the jury and the judge had this evidence there wouldn't have been a conviction.
What evidence has Bishop discovered? The I-Team pours over police reports and trial testimony, gaining access to the court's evidence locker where the ski mask, the golf club and that chilling 911 tape is stored.
That part of the story will air Tuesday at 11 p.m. on NBC 10 News.