LACONIA — A local man arrested on September 24 in a downtown parking lot said that his attempts to get away from the arresting sheriff's deputy were made as self defense.
Joseph Morrissette, 24, formerly of Court St. has filed notice of what is called an affirmative defense in the Belknap County Superior Court.
Morrissette was charged with one count of resisting arrest and one count of simple assault.
Atty. Jared Bedrick explained yesterday that when the state decided to pursue enhance penalties (or prison sentences) for resisting arrest and assault on the deputy, whose lip was cut during the fight, the case went over to superior court because the circuit court cannot impose prison sentences — only county-level house of corrections sentences.
Morrissette was also charged with two counts of possession of narcotics and one count of possession with intent to sell narcotics.
Morrissette filed a motion to suppress the drug evidence in the 4th Circuit Court, arguing that the arresting deputy had no reason to detain him. Judge Jim Carroll agreed and ruled on October 5 that the drugs seized by the Belknap County Sheriff's Department could not be used as evidence.
According to Carroll's ruling and affidavits submitted to the court, Morrissette was leaning into the back seat of a friend's car and was spotted by the deputy as he was driving north on Main Street in Laconia.
The deputy said he approached the car because it was illegally stopped but focused his attention on Morrissette, who told him he was there to get a hair cut. The driver of the car left and the deputy made no effort to follow the car.
During the ensuing minutes, the deputy said he grabbed Morrissette, who he knew from a previous drug arrest in a case that is still pending, and Morrissette objected to being grabbed.
A scuffle ensued and the deputy told him to stay still or he would be zapped with a Taser. The defendant said he was trying to get away from the deputy, fearing he would be hurt.
The deputy deployed his electric stun gun and Morrissette was taken into custody.
In his ruling, Carroll said "the Court finds that the action by the deputy was directed at the driver of the vehicle upon his approach to the vehicle."
"There is no basis in fact to warrant his seizure of the defendant — the leaning in of the defendant into the vehicle (and) his subsequent nervousness — do not add to the articulable facts supporting the deputy's seizure," he wrote.
Carroll said that once the driver was not longer illegally parked and since the deputy made no effort to follow the driver, his further contact with Morrissette and any "fruits of the poisoned tree" could not be used against him.
The three drug charges were bound over to Belknap County Superior Court however, to date, Morrissette has not be indicted by a grand jury.