Man sentenced to life for beating 78-year-old man to death

A Providence man has been sentenced to life in prison for killing a 78-year-old man during a 2013 home invasion.

Leopoldo Belen, who was already serving a life sentence for a separate crime, was sentenced Thursday in Providence County Superior Court, according to Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Neronha.

Prosecutors say Belen and co-defendant Joel Valdez broke into a third-floor apartment in Providence in October 2013 and assaulted a resident when Delor “Dean” Cabral, the owner of the apartment, rushed upstairs to answer. When Cabral entered the apartment, prosecutors said, Belen and Valdez threw him to the ground and stomped on him before fleeing.

The attack caused significant head and neck trauma to Cabral, who died nearly a month later.

Valdez pleaded guilty to second degree murder in 2015 and is awaiting sentencing. Belen was due to stand trial later this month but changed his plea to no contest, meaning he accepts the charge without admitting guilt.

A lawyer for Belen could not be reached for comment.

Neronha said he hoped the sentence would bring “a measure of closure” to Cabral’s family.

“To hear the story of this crime is to be overwhelmed by its callousness and deadly impact on a man who had lived his life well and who at the time of his death was helping others,” he said. he said in a statement.

Another man, Wilbert Richardson, spent 19 months in prison for Cabral’s murder before his charges were dismissed in 2015. Richardson later sued the Providence Police Department, saying he was at a funeral at the time of Cabral’s attack and there was no matching DNA. him on the stage. He then settled with the police department for $67,500.

Belen was previously sentenced to life in prison in 2017 after a jury found him guilty of four counts of first-degree sexual assault. In that case, prosecutors said Belen violently assaulted his then-girlfriend after she got angry because she had smoked their last cigarette.

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