WOONSOCKET – Convicted thrill-killer Alfred Brissette has won early release from the parole board after all.
After hitting the pause button on its decision to free Brissette amid a firestorm of criticism in December, the board unanimously reaffirmed its position yesterday, said Matt Degnan, the administrator for the parole board.
Brissette, 39, of Woonsocket, who pleaded no contest to the 1999 slaying of Jeanette Descoteaux, will be released as soon as the details of his release plan are firmed up, said Degnan.
“Upon the completion of that release plan, he will be released forthwith,” he said.
Brissette was ordered to serve 35 years of a 60-year sentence in prison, which would have kept him behind bars until 2034, but corrections officials say his parole eligibility date was pushed ahead because he earned some 1,600 days of credit for “good time.”
He was one of two men convicted in the brutal bludgeoning murder of Descoteaux on a secluded trail in the George Washington Management Area of Burrillville. His accomplice, Marc Girard, also of Woonsocket, was convicted of first-degree murder after a trial in 2001 and was sentenced to life in prison plus 10 years.
During his trial, Girard testified that he and Brissette had been planning to kill someone for months before the night they murdered Descoteaux just because they wanted to see how it felt to take a human life. Brissette had even purchased a shovel he kept in his truck to dig a grave.
When the state Supreme Court denied Girard’s appeal, the city woman’s homicide was described as a “brutal, barbaric and utterly senseless ‘thrill kill.’”
Brissette and Girard met Descoteaux after a party in Woonsocket and lured her to Burrillville by promising to get her some cocaine at “Uncle Bob’s” cabin in the woods, according to court records.
After Descoteaux had sex with Descoteaux in his rented Chevy Blazer, Brissette retrieved a lug wrench from the trunk by pushing down the back seat, then smashed Descoteaux in the head with it twice.
At that point, Descoteaux was stunned, but still alive and very frightened. She pleaded for the men to stop and Girard calmed her down by promising to get her help and giving her a cigarette.
She became panic-stricken and tried to run for her life moments later, when she saw Brissette hand Girard the shovel and heard him order Girard to start digging.
The two men chased after her, dragged her back to the Blazer and told her to get dressed because she was going to the hospital.
“After she had dressed, Brissette began to hit her repeatedly with his fists and with the lug wrench,” the Supreme Court’s synopsis says. “She fell to the ground. Girard then struck her in the spine in an attempt to paralyze her. Both men then dragged her farther into the woods. As Jeanette lay on the ground ‘gurgling,’ Girard viciously struck her head three times with the lug wrench because: ‘I thought she was alive, the court papers say.
‘I was...she-she was wounded bad,” Girard explained. ‘I was just trying to put her out of her misery. I didn't want her laying out there for days still alive, bleeding.’”
Two days later, a woman saw Girard driving through Woonsocket and recognized him as the man with whom Descoteaux had last been seen the night she disappeared.
Within hours, Girard had given Woonsocket police a statement acknowledging that he and Brissette had been with Descoteaux on the night she vanished, but he denied any wrongdoing.
The parole decision on Brissette was criticized, among others, by the Providence-based Alliance for Safe Communities, a non-profit victims' advocacy group.
About as close as the board has come to addressing the criticism was a statement by Degnan indicating that members were impressed by Brissette’s “documented program for change,” as Degnan told WPRI-TV not long ago.
After the controversy erupted, however, the board announced that it would stay the decision pending a review of Brissette’s release plan.
Degnan declined to reveal the details, but he said the plan might include information about where Brissette intends to work, live and his strategy for success outside prison.