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State v. Spaulding

Supreme Court of New Hampshire

May 17, 2019


          Submitted: May 8, 2019

          Gordon J. MacDonald, attorney general (Elizabeth C. Woodcock, assistant attorney general, on the memorandum of law), for the State.

          David M. Rothstein, deputy director public defender, of Concord, on the memorandum of law, for the defendant.

          HICKS, J.

         The defendant, Paul R. Spaulding, appeals the order of the Superior Court (Ruoff, J.) that he be detained without bail pending resolution of the charges against him. See RSA 597:2, IV(a) (Supp. 2018). We affirm.

         The record establishes the following facts. The defendant was charged with two counts of misdemeanor domestic violence, see RSA 631:2-b (Supp. 2018), one count of felony reckless conduct, see RSA 631:3 (Supp. 2018), and one count of felony criminal threatening, see RSA 631:4 (2016). At his arraignment on those charges, he pleaded not guilty. Based upon an affidavit that has not been provided as part of the appellate record and representations by the State, the court found, by clear and convincing evidence, that preventive detention was warranted and ordered the defendant to be detained without bail. See RSA 597:2, IV(a). The court also issued a domestic violence criminal order of protection. See RSA ch. 173-B (2014 & Supp. 2018).

         The court held a probable cause hearing on the charges a few days later. At that time, the State entered a nolle prosequi on the criminal threatening charge and filed a new charge against the defendant, criminal threatening with a deadly weapon, to which the defendant pleaded not guilty. See RSA 631:4, II(a)(2). At the probable cause hearing, the court heard testimony about the event that gave rise to the charges against the defendant. Specifically, there was testimony that at approximately 2:00 in the morning on December 16, 2018, there was a call regarding a domestic argument between the caller's mother and the defendant. The caller informed dispatch that the defendant had discharged a firearm outside.

         Officers were dispatched to an apartment building in Hinsdale at which the domestic disturbance allegedly was taking place. When the officers arrived, they heard yelling from one of the apartments. The apartment door was open, and the officers issued multiple commands to the defendant to exit. Seeing a firearm on the defendant's hip, the police took him into detention immediately. The defendant was "very, very angry" and "vocal" and could be heard saying to the complainant, "[Y]ou did this to me, you did this to me." One officer described the defendant as "growling" with anger. As officers placed the defendant into the cruiser, they heard him yelling, "I'm going to kill the bitch."

         After he was detained, the police recovered both the firearm on the defendant's hip and a second gun. One gun was a Kel-Tec nine-millimeter, semiautomatic pistol that was missing one round of ammunition; the other was a Smith & Wesson nine-millimeter, semiautomatic pistol that was not missing any rounds. At the jail, the police seized a magazine of ammunition from the defendant as well as a knife with a six-inch blade. Police testified that the knife was sheathed and "stuffed into the . . . inside of [the defendant's] waistband by his underwear."

         Police then interviewed the complainant and her daughter. They were told that the complainant and the defendant had been in an intimate relationship for approximately one year. Although the defendant lives in Vermont "most of the time," he stayed with the complainant occasionally.

         The complainant told the police that she and the defendant had gone out with other building tenants that night and that the defendant had had "a couple Jack and Cokes." When the complainant and the defendant came home, they had smoked some marijuana, and the defendant then had become "enraged," although the complainant said that she had "no idea why." When the complainant attempted to leave the apartment, the defendant prevented her from doing so by grabbing her shoulders and pinning her against the wall of the bedroom so that she could not move. Eventually, he released his grip, but when she attempted to leave the apartment he stood in front of the door and would not let her leave. When she was finally able to leave, she fled to the first floor apartment of a neighbor.

         While in the neighbor's apartment, the complainant heard the defendant come downstairs and leave the building only to return and begin banging on the neighbor's door. The defendant sounded rageful as he said, "[I]f you don't open the door, I'm just going to shoot it down." The complainant felt afraid and assumed a "vertical fetal position." She told police that she was afraid because she knew that the defendant had a gun and his possession of a gun had been "contentious in their relationship." The complainant also said that she felt afraid because she had never seen the defendant act like this before.

         The complainant then heard the defendant ascend and descend the stairs rapidly, running outside the apartment building. Less than a minute later, the complainant heard a gunshot.

         The complainant's daughter confirmed that the argument between the defendant and the complainant occurred after the two had returned to the apartment that night and that the complainant had run downstairs to the first floor neighbor's apartment. The complainant's daughter heard the defendant banging on the neighbor's door and heard him say "I'm not doing this anymore, I'm just going to shoot it down," or words to that effect. She then heard the defendant go upstairs, threaten to kill himself, run downstairs, and run outside. She heard a gunshot, and, ...

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