Victim said to have been selling pot at time of armed robbery

LACONIA — The victim of an armed robbery on Joliet Street at 4:09 p.m. on March 25 was allegedly in the process of selling pot to a friend of the man who is accused of robbing him.

According to testimony offered in the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division yesterday at a probable cause hearing for accused armed robber Joshua McNeil, 31, police said the victim admitted the alleged perpetrator had come to his apartment to purchase some marijuana. The robbery then allegedly occurred at gunpoint.

Police testified that the victim said he had gotten a text message from McNeil asking to buy some pot from him and that McNeil met him and his passenger in a downtown parking lot.

The three men allegedly then went to the victim's apartment on Blueberry Lane, got some marijuana and were driving across town to sell it to one of McNeil's friends.

A Laconia officer testified that the victim told him somewhere along South Main Street, McNeil put a gun to the back of his head and told the passenger to keep his head between his legs and not look up. The victim said he was told to stop at the bottom of Pine Street where the passenger was ordered out of the car.

Police said the victim told them that McNeil ordered him to turn right on to Baldwin Street and then right on to Joiliet Street. At this point, the victim said he was trying to convince McNeil that he didn't have any money and said he gave his wallet to McNeil to prove it.

He told police that McNeil stole the marijuana and "pistol whipped" him in the head. The victim said he ran to one of the residences for safety on Joliet Street and the resident called the police for him.

Two police officers spoke separately with the victim and his former passenger and both picked McNeil from a photo lineup. The testifying officer said he included McNeil in the photo array because the victim told him McNeil's first name was Josh, had described tattoos that the officer knew were similar to those McNeil had, and that he knew McNeil had friends and/or family in that South End neighborhood.

The officer said at no time were the victim and his passenger in the same room during their contact with police so they could not have concocted the story they both told separately to two separate police officers.

Under cross examination, McNeil's attorney elicited from the officer that the victim had asked the Joiliet Street resident who called the police to hide a marijuana pipe for him because he was afraid of getting in trouble when the police came.

Neither the victim nor his passenger called the police but did cooperate when police arrived.

When asked if the officer was familiar with the victim and his alleged marijuana activities, the officer testified that he had never met or heard of the victim until he first encountered him on Joliet Street.

He also said that the next morning a woman who had some relationship with McNeil called the Laconia Police and told the sergeant in charge that McNeil had used a BB gun but that he no longer had it.

The officer testified that the sergeant encouraged the woman to get McNeil to turn himself in, which he did on March 26 around 8 p.m.

McNeil's public defender argued that the credibility of the victim and his passenger were suspect and since a gun hasn't been recovered there isn't enough evidence to sustain the charges of armed robbery.

The city prosecutor argued the credibility of the victim and the witness are matters for trial.

Judge Jim Carroll agreed with the prosecutor and found probable cause for the charges. McNeil continues to be held on $100,000 cash-only bail.

The case will be bound over to the Belknap County Attorney for possible indictment.