Frank Caraballo appears in Windham District Court in Brattleboro. (Reformer file photo)
Frank Caraballo appears in Windham District Court in Brattleboro. (Reformer file photo)

BRATTLEBORO -- Attorneys for a man convicted by a jury of causing the death of a Brattleboro woman in 2011 are asking the court to overturn the verdict.

"There was insufficient evidence for the jury to find that (Frank) Caraballo caused (Melissa) Barratt's murder, given that the jury did not find that Mr. Caraballo discharged the firearm that caused her death," wrote Mark Kaplan and Natasha Sen, in a document filed Nov. 1 with the U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont.

Following the 10-day trial, on Oct. 2, the jury found Frank Caraballo guilty of distributing heroin, cocaine and crack cocaine and of carrying or possessing a firearm in the furtherance of a drug trafficking offense, causing the death of Melissa Barratt by murder through the use of the firearm.

However, the jury did not find Caraballo guilty of actually pulling the trigger.

Even though the jury heard testimony from a number of people implicating Caraballo in Barratt's death, they wrote, "None of this evidence indicates in any way that Mr. Caraballo directed or caused anyone else to murder Ms. Barratt."

On July 29, 2011, Barratt's body was found in the woods off of East West Road in Dummerston. Jurors heard testimony that Caraballo suspected Barratt of stealing a safe from him containing thousands of dollars worth of drugs. They also heard testimony that Caraballo had threatened to kill whoever stole the safe. In addition, Joshua Makhanda Lopez, who testified he was with Caraballo when he killed Barratt, told the jury he was there when Caraballo pulled the trigger.

However, Caraballo, testifying on his own behalf, said he didn't know who killed Barratt and that he wasn't even in Vermont when she was shot. His attorneys presented evidence that Caraballo's girlfriend picked him up in Brattleboro on July 28 and took him to talk to his supplier, "Doughboy," in Holyoke, Mass., about the theft of the safe.

Other testimony given by Caraballo contradicted testimony given by witnesses who claimed he was waving a pistol around and threatening to kill whoever stole his safe.

Because the prosecution couldn't prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Caraballo killed Barratt, the jury couldn't convict him of killing her, wrote his attorneys.

"There was no evidence at trial that Mr. Caraballo caused Ms. Barratt's death in any way other than discharging the Glock pistol," noted his attorneys. "As a result, in order to have caused Ms. Barratt's death, the jury had to find that Mr. Caraballo caused someone else to perform an act that caused her death. There is no evidence to support such a finding."

The prosecution's only theory presented to the jury, they wrote, was that Caraballo shot Barratt, and because no other theories were given that support the jury's conclusion that he caused their death, the court should overturn the verdict.

"There must be some evidence to support that outcome, but there is none."