On Wednesday, a Rhode Island man who fatally strangled a woman in Kneeland was sentenced to 25 years to life for the killing plus an additional six years and four months for other crimes.
During the sentencing hearing, Austin Medeiros, who admitted to killing 28-year-old Emily Lobba on April 3, 2022, argued he was justified because he believed she was a violent criminal and rapist who had killed several people and belonged to a dangerous gang called “the wrecking crew” with hundreds of members.
Medeiros was initially declared not mentally competent for criminal proceedings, but after being involuntarily medicated, he was reinstated against the objections of his attorney, Deputy Conflict Counsel Owen Tipps, who said that even after medication, Medeiros maintained delusions that made it difficult to provide effective assistance.
“I definitely killed Emily Lobba and I lied on the stand, but I was justified in my actions,” Medeiros said from the custody box with Lobba’s family and loved ones present.
Lobba weighed roughly 75 pounds and was born with a condition called arthrogryposis at birth that severely limited her mobility. She needed two caregivers to help her for several hours per week.
Medeiros maintained that Lobba had raped and murdered several women, including his twin, that she recorded the acts and hid the recording behind a radiator in her apartment. He asked for a search warrant to be issued so police could find the recording.
Lobba’s friends and family spoke about the irreparable damage losing her caused, and Lobba’s herculean efforts to live independently with her condition.
“It is hard to imagine why this happened and I find myself at a loss,” Marco Lobba, Emily’s brother, said.
Lobba’s mother, Mary Jackson, noted that because of her daughter’s condition, she could not make a fist, scratch or punch and her hips were out of their sockets.
Some friends and family members were going to read their written statements already submitted to the court, but Judge Kaleb Cockrum said he could not allow this, as it would be duplicative.
A jury also decided that Medeiros had kicked Lobba’s caregiver as he fled her apartment, stole Lobba’s van and used it on a high-speed chase away from the police. He was also accused of attacking custodial officer Richard Sanchez with a sharpened spork while in the county jail. Medeiros’ statement that Sanchez had raped him was uncompelling to the jury.
However, because it was duplicative of the same act, Cockrum dismissed the battery charge.
Cockrum thanked the family members for their letters, noting they helped him better understand who she was to them. Cockrum told Medeiros that he hopes he finds remorse while in prison.
“You face the harsh reality of your actions,” Cockrum said.
Medeiros has 410 days of custody credits, 230 of which were applied to his sentence. If he is paroled, it will be for life.
Deputy District Attorney Candace Myers represented the prosecution.
On a jailhouse phone call to Medeiros’ mother played during the trial, Medeiros — who his mother said is schizophrenic and has resisted psychiatric care his entire life — said that he expected to receive a slap on the wrist at most.
“I’m probably only gonna get a year for all this,” Medeiros said on the phone call.
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