WARWICK, RI — Friday, Superior Court Judge Louis Matos found Michael Soares, 37, guilty of the murder of John Fay, 66, of Warwick in Warwick City Park May 17, 2013, noting Soares’ statements and actions undermined his defense that he didn’t appreciate it was wrong and wasn’t able to stop himself.
In his decision, Matos didn’t dispute that Soares suffered from mental illness, but maintained it was Soare’s burden to prove that illness prevented him from recognizing what he did was wrong, and also prevented him from controlling his actions.
“Based upon the state of the evidence, the Court cannot find that Defendant has proven by a preponderance of the evidence that there was a relationship between his mental impairment and his crime. He was self-aware enough in  to deny any prior violence and, what has been referred to as his baseline intelligence, appears to have allowed him to grasp the basic concept of the insanity defense and concurrently attempt to absolve himself of the crime. However, the objective evidence undermines his effort. He has not proven that he did not appreciate the wrongfulness of his conduct or that he could not conform his conduct to the requirements of the law,” Matos wrote in his decision, posted to Justia.law.com.
Soares, a high school honors student with a BS in Civil Engineering from URI in 2018, first exhibited mental illness in the public record in May 2009, when he was admitted to Kent Hospital for “paranoia, odd behavior and [making] comments about participating in mass suicide to see what the afterlife was like.” He was transferred to Butler Hospital for treatment from May 18 to May 27, released with a diagnosis of “Psychotic Disorder Not Otherwise Specified,” and refused medications and follow-up treatment, according to the court record. In 2012, he left a job at Whole Foods because, he told a doctor, he “believed that people around him were capable of “warp[ing] into vampires,” according to the testimony of Dr. Patricia Recupero, a witness for the defense.
On the day of the murder, according to the doctor’s report, Soares believed somebody was going to be shooting at him, hunt him down and “kill [him] with energy.” He also claimed to believe at the time that people could turn into vampires. He had spent the night awake at the park and around sunrise, saw a man jogging on the track past him.
“I went after him believing that it was the end for me and that I would live at most a few days,” Soares told the doctor, according to the report.
Soares hit the man, Fay, in the head with a hammer and stabbed his throat, he said, according to the doctor’s account. He later placed Fay in a trash barrel and moved him into the woods.
On Jan. 22, 2014, Soares admitted himself to Kent Hospital, reporting having been “scared and overwhelmed” and “had not slept in days,” seeking treatment ,“for increasing irritability, auditory hallucinations (hearing voices), fears of people reading his mind, difficulty sleeping, concern that he would act out violently towards others, and sensitivity to noise.” Hospital records state the following: “He said that he had not done anything violent, but he was concerned because he had lost control of his temper, and that this would lead him to harm someone. He[said] that these problems had been going on for over a year, and that they were becoming increasingly worse, to the point where it was difficult for him to tolerate it.”
The decision also details testimony from Soares that prior to the murder, May 13, 2013, he bought a one-way airline ticket to Tehran, Iran, to depart May 18, which was cancelled, then bought an airline ticket to Pakistan on May 16 departing May 19. He was not allowed to travel there because he lacked the right visa. He also purchased the hammer used in the attack from a Newport Walmart on March 14, 2013, modifying the grip to resemble a medieval weapon, and a knife from a Warwick Walmart the day before the murder, May 16.
Both Recupero and the state’s expert, Dr. Christopher Matkovic, testified they believed Soares was unable to determine the murder was wrong and unable to control his actions, but that was not the sole factor Matos used in his decision.
“In a criminal trial, the State has the burden to prove all the elements of charged crimes beyond a reasonable doubt; however, it is the defendant, when raising the insanity defense, who has the burden to prove by a preponderance of the evidence “that his insanity or diminished capacity ‘prevented him from forming the required intent and malice essential for conviction on the [counts charged],”’ Matos wrote.
“Additionally, the defendant not only “must prove that he ‘suffered from this defect at the time of the offense,’ but also that he suffered from this defect to such a degree that he cannot ‘justly be held responsible’ for the crime.”
According to the decision, Matkovic said he was “troubled” that after Soares’ hospitalization in 2014 and after he “was restored to a higher level of functioning through psychiatric treatment,” he did not turn himself in, “Because if he were to be truly not guilty by reason of insanity, and, of course, he didn’t know whether he would be or not, but presuming innocence for this crime through that rationale, I would hope that someone would take accountability at that point for what they had done.”
Matos also noted that both doctors’ interviews with Soares occurred several years after the murder, calling his account of his motivation into question.
“The only objective evidence available to the Court is that in 2014 Defendant was arguably able to control such impulses and lied about whether he had acted upon them. The experts agree that Defendant could not control his behavior. However, other than his own belated statements, there is no contemporaneous objective evidence to support that finding and there is subsequent evidence to contradict it, specifically his admission to Kent. As such, the Court finds that such evidence is not preponderant in Defendant’s favor when viewed in light of the considerable evidence of Defendant’s intentional acts both prior to and after the murder.”
Warwick Police detectives arrested Soares and charged him with the murder Feb. 5, 2019 after matching his DNA to the murder scene DNA samples.
“This is the culmination of years of excellent and tireless effort by the Warwick Police Department,” Warwick Police wrote on their Facebook page following the verdict.
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