Woman convicted of killing child argues cops have done same to suspects

Kimberly Fry, who's serving 20 years for strangling her daughter to death, said cops had accidentally killed detainees while applying similar restraints

By Katie Mulvaney
The Providence Journal, R.I.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A North Kingstown mother serving 20 years in prison for murdering her daughter is asking the court to overturn her conviction based on news that police officers had accidentally killed detainees while applying similar restraints, yet had not been found culpable for the killings.

Kimberly M. Fry is arguing to Superior Court Judge William E. Carnes Jr. that she was wrongly convicted and sentenced to 40 years in prison, with 20 to serve, for strangling her 8-year-old daughter, Camden, to death in 2009.

Kimberly Fry watches proceedings her murder trial at Washington County Superior Court in South Kingstown, R.I., Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2011. (AP Photo/Frieda Squires, Pool)
Kimberly Fry watches proceedings her murder trial at Washington County Superior Court in South Kingstown, R.I., Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2011. (AP Photo/Frieda Squires, Pool)

Fry, 44, argues that "new evidence" that police officers in Florida and New York had accidentally killed people using restraints demands that her conviction be vacated "in the interest of fairness and in the pursuit of justice."

"The same 4-6 minutes of continuous pressure was needed to cause death after loss of consciousness, yet malice was not inferred," Fry wrote.

Fry also argues that the state Public Defender's Office failed her trial lawyers, John E. Lovoy and Sarah Wright, by not providing them enough money to raise a diminished capacity defense and call a psychiatric expert on her behalf. She faults Carnes for not allowing the jury to consider her mental competency in reaching its verdict, despite her 25-plus year battle with mental illness and maladaptive responses in times of distress.

"If the court, the jury or even the prosecution would have had these additional facts of my mental illness, the would have had a much more accurate lense [sic] in which to consider my actions and inactions. They could see how I did not mean to hurt her," Fry wrote.

A jury in October 2011, after an emotional weeks-long trial, found Fry guilty of second-degree murder for the Aug. 10, 2009, killing of Camden after the two argued about bath time. Carnes sentenced Fry to 40 years in prison, with 20 to serve.

Witnesses at trial described Camden as a caring girl with an adventurous spirit. Jurors also learned of the child's sometimes hour-long tantrums about taking a bath and that she had been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and mild anxiety. Evidence revealed that Fry had struggled with depression, post traumatic stress disorder, insomnia and suicidal thoughts.

Timothy Fry testified under questioning by Assistant Attorney General Stephen A. Regine about returning from playing hockey the night of Camden's death to find his wife, Kimberly, listing on the couch after taking medication and his daughter apparently asleep in bed. He said he went to his daughter's room the next morning and found her cold and stiff, with a teddy bear tucked under her arm. He said Fry later told told him she had sat on Camden and put her hands on her mouth, a technique he said she had previously used with success.

Fry unsuccessfully argued to the state Supreme Court that Carnes erred by not instructing the jury that they could consider whether Fry had committed voluntary manslaughter due to diminished capacity because she had taken muscle relaxers, Benadryl and other drugs before she restrained and killed Camden.

The Supreme Court found that Fry's lawyers had failed to preserve the diminished capacity instruction issue because they didn't raise it before the jury began deliberating. Similarly, the high court concluded that Carnes' instructions adequately conveyed that the jury could not find Fry guilt of second-degree murder if Camden's death had occurred by accident.

Superior Court Presiding Justice Alice B. Gibney has appointed George J. West, who could not be reached immediately for comment, to represent Fry. A spokeswoman for the attorney general's office also could not be reached immediately.

©2018 The Providence Journal (Providence, R.I.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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