By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN
CONCORD — The attorney for convicted rapist and former Belknap County Sheriff Ernest Justin Blanchette has filed an appeal with the state Supreme Court seeking to overturn his April conviction.
Attorney Brad Davis what he said are multiple errors of law made by the Hillsborough County North Judge Gillian Abramson during the course of Blanchette's trial.
Initially, Davis said, the court never should have allowed evidence of Blanchette's alleged prior bad acts, which include a sexual encounter with the victim that took place prior to that for which he was convicted. Davis said the state failed to tell him in the amount of time he needed to prepare for trial and that it should not have been admitted at trial.
Secondly, he said Abramson erred when she denied his request to set aside the verdict by concluding that he had direct supervision over her by virtue "where the actor was employed." Davis has long said that the law is specific only to corrections officers and that Blanchette was a deputy with the sheriff's department and not a corrections officer.
Davis said Abramson committed an error when she reviewed the language of the specific law when the statute is "clear and unambiguous." He said the Supreme Court should decide if there was enough evidence at rial for the jury to conclude Blanchette was employed by the New Hampshire State Prison where the victim was incarcerated.
He is also challenging the sentence, which he said took into consideration a prior bad act for which he was not convicted.
Davis is also challenging the evidence, saying it was not proved beyond a reasonable doubt that he "coerced" the victim into having sex with him by allowing her to use his cell phone during transports and for giving her cigarettes.
Blanchette was convicted of one count of aggravated felonious sexual assault when he had intercourse with a woman in Bedford while he was transporting her from the Belknap County Court House to the N.H. State Prison for Women in Goffstown on July 2, 2015.
He is facing multiple indictments in Belknap County Superior Court for similar acts he alleged committed while transporting other inmates, including his first victim, in Belknap County.
Belknap County Presiding Justice James O'Neill has said he doesn't want to try the Belknap County cases until the Supreme Court rules on the Hillsborough North case.
Blanchette was sentenced to 10 to 20 years in prison with two of the minimum term suspended provided he be of good behavior and successfully complete a sexual offender course while incarcerated.
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