AG: Johnston man sentenced to life in prison for 2021 nightclub murder

Warwick Beacon ·

Prosecutors argued a Johnston man was in a scuffle outside a Providence club. He walked away from the fight, but “90 seconds later … returned with a gun.” Now he’ll likely spend the rest of his life behind bars.

Rhode Island Attorney General Peter F. Neronha announced a Johnston man’s life sentence for the 2021 murder of 27-year-old Mario Diaz.

According to a press release from Neronha’s office, Miguel Lacourt, 39, of Johnston, was sentenced Monday in Providence County Superior Court to serve life in prison at the Adult Correctional Institutions (ACI) for the Providence homicide.

Superior Court Justice Robert D. Krause sentenced Lacourt to 60 years in prison, with a consecutive life sentence at the ACI, according to the AG’s Office.

On Jan. 17, following a seven-day trial, a jury found Lacourt guilty of one count of second-degree murder, one count of discharging a firearm while committing a crime of violence resulting in death, and one count of carrying a pistol without a license.

“Mario Diaz is one of many victims that would still be alive if not for the availability of firearms to those ready and willing to use them for violence,” Neronha said. “We must continue to fight for commonsense gun laws and enforcement to avoid such tragedies. I hope this sentencing provides some closure for the victim’s family and I thank the Providence Police for their commitment to seeking justice on behalf of the victims of violent crime.”

During the trial, the prosecution proved “beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant shot and killed the victim following a dispute at a Providence lounge,” according to the AG’s Office. “In the early morning hours of Aug. 7, 2021, the defendant and two friends attended Fuego Lounge on West Friendship Street in Providence.”

Investigators used video surveillance to tie Lacourt to the crime.

“At some point, the defendant and his friend exited the nightclub and lingered outside,” according to the AG’s press release. “While outside the nightclub, the defendant and another individual began an argument that then turned physical. The defendant attempted to restrain one of the people involved but got punched and kicked to the ground. The defendant eventually freed himself from the altercation and walked off towards Elmwood Avenue. Approximately 90 seconds later, the defendant returned with a gun and shot the victim.”

According to the AG’s press release, “investigators recovered several items from the crime scene, including a strand of hair, a Cincinnati Reds hat and a Motorsport brand sneaker, items which were identified as belonging to the defendant in the video surveillance footage.”

They sent the evidence to the Rhode Island Department of Health (DOH) Forensic Biology Lab. According to prosecutors, “the defendant’s DNA profile matched the profiles extracted from all four items.”

Police also used booking photos to match Lacourt’s tattoos with still frames from the video surveillance.

“I commend the outstanding work conducted by the men and women of the Providence Police Department and the Attorney General’s Office for bringing this defendant to justice,” said Providence Police Chief Col. Oscar L. Perez, Jr. “Gun violence in our communities must be stopped at all costs. The family and friends of this victim, and all victims of gun violence, are in my thoughts today and every day.”

Providence Police Detective Mitchell Guerra, Assistant Attorney General Scott Erickson and Special Assistant Attorney General Ariel Pittner led the investigation and prosecution of the case.

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