Defense lawyer alleges Belmont stabbing victim is a drug dealer

LACONIA — After a hearing in the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division yesterday, a judge found there was probable cause to send the case against Robert Rama for physically restraining someone who was trying to come to the defense of a Belmont stabbing victim to a grand jury for indictment.

Rama, 22, formerly of Concord, is charged with out count of criminal liability of another for allegedly choking Corey Cromwell's girlfriend, Natasha Bruce, when she went to help break up a fight between Cromwell and John Drouin.

Drouin, 26, is charged with one count of first-degree assault for allegedly stabbing Cromwell eight or nine times on February 24 at just after 1 a.m. He faces a second count of first-degree assault for allegedly stabbing John Hynes three times during the same altercation.

The alleged stabbings occurred in what was described as a common hall that led upstairs to at least two small apartments above Lakes Region Dock — a business that is closed for the winter. The state has alleged that Rama and Drouin waited for Cromwell, who lives in the apartment, by hiding in a common bathroom at the top of the stairs.

According to Belmont Det. Raechel Moulton, who was Asst. Belknap County Attorney Carley Ahern's, only witness at yesterday's probable cause hearing, a video and audio tape obtained from Cromwell's apartment at 252 Daniel Webster Highway (Rte. 3) and installed by Cromwell shows Cromwell, Hynes and Bruce leaving the apartment at midnight on Monday.

Moulton said about an hour after the three left the video shows a car backing into a spot at nearby Bladecki's Auto and two men entering the door that leads upstairs to Cromwell's apartment.

She said a short time later, the video showed Cromwell, Hynes and Bruce arriving back at the apartment and reentering the building. Moulton also said she could hear a "commotion" on the tape after which the outside door opened and five people came out.

She said Hynes is heard on the tape saying "what do you want" and some one else was heard saying  he "wanted the stuff."

She said the audio recorded a lot of "commotion" and the video appears at one point to show all five of them at the bottom of the stairs in the lighted hallway trying to exit back into the parking lot.

Moulton also said she could hear the names John Drouin and Robert Rama being spoken by someone on the audio portion, which is consistent with the information Bruce gave Moulton about who allegedly attacked them that night.

Moulton also testified that Bruce told her Drouin had the knife.

In a brief cross examination, Rama's lawyer Ted Barnes asked Det. Moulton if the three victims told her they were driving around aimlessly that evening, which was what was printed in the initial affidavit.

"You know that to be a lie?" he asked her, inferring that Bruce lied to police about what the trio was doing just before the attack.

Moulton answered that she didn't know (it was a lie).

"You haven't figured out they )the three victims) went to buy drugs?" asked Barnes, pressing, again inferring that if Bruce lied to her about what the three did before the attact, then she could be lying about Rama allegedly choking her.

He also asked Moulton if she knew whether Cromwell had a jewels in his apartment. She said he didn't.

"Isn't that the only reason Corey would have surveillance (or) was he was a drug dealer?" asked Barnes, noting that Cromwell had installed the video and audio surveillance in the hallway and the front door and it must have been for a good reason.

"I don't know," replied Moulton.

Barnes asked Moulton if Bruce told her Rama allegedly choked her and whether it was possible he was trying to extricate her from the fight.

"I was told she was being choked and not being helped," replied Moulton.

In closing, Barnes argued that Rama didn't do anything except not be helpful that night and the state hadn't met its burden of probable cause.

Carroll determined the testimony by Moulton was that Bruce was choked by Rama when she was trying to aid Cromwell. He ordered Rama's bail to be continued at $50,000 cash only.

The next step in Rama's case is that it will be presented to a Belknap County grand jury for possible indictment.

John J. Drouin has a probable cause hearing scheduled for tomorrow.

Probable cause is not a trial and is not an indication of guilt or wrongdoing. It is a hearing to determine whether or not there is enough evidence to proceed to trial in a Superior Court.