By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — A Gilford man's rape trial ended in a mistrial Tuesday after the jury foreman told the Belknap County Superior Court judge that they could not come to a unanimous decision.
The jury had deliberated for nearly two days after closing arguments Monday morning as to whether or not Carroll Thompson, 45, of raped his girlfriend as she was trying to leave his home in January of 2016.
Back in court Wednesday, Judge James O'Neill reduced Thompson's bail conditions from $25,000 cash only to $10,000 personal recognizance bail. Other conditions of his bail remain the same and include no contact with the alleged victim, no unprescribed drugs or alcohol, no guns or weapons, and no leaving the state of New Hampshire.
Thompson also faces eight counts of breach of bail after Laconia Police alleged he called the alleged victim eight times from the Belknap County House of Corrections while he was awaiting trial.
The state, as represented by prosecutor Adam Wood, asked that Thompson's bail remain at $25,000 cash only because the case against him is not over and he is still charged with two counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault.
Wood cited his previous record, which includes a conviction for simple assault, and the eight alleged bail violations as reasons for continuing to hold him.
Thompson's public defender Eric Wolpin told the court that to continue to hold Thompson in jail after 11 of 12 jurors had decided to acquit him was "disheartening, disturbing and violates every principal of justice the community has."
Wolpin said that bail on the other charges were a different case and not the subject of that specific argument. Thompson has spent the past 10 months in jail while awaiting trial as he was unable to post the $25,000 cash needed to free himself.
Wolpin said the state's case was well-prepared and argued by the county's senior prosecutor, Carley Ahern, and 11 of 12 people still weren't convinced of his guilt.
"It's a shock to the conscious to continue to incarcerate him," Wolpin said.
The purpose of bail is to ensure there is no danger to the community and to make sure the person charged with a crime appears at trial. Bail cannot be used as punishment, according to state and federal law.
Wolpin said that Thompson's family was there to take him home, said he wasn't going anywhere and agrees to all of the other conditions, including no contact with the alleged victim.
Wolpin said that the eight calls made to her from jail were collect calls and she did not have to accept them.
"Saying she accepted the calls is the worst kind of victim blame," said Wood in rebuttal, maintaining his request for $25,000 cash-only bail "There was no acquittal. He still stands charged."
Wolpin replied that the woman is still an alleged victim and Thompson is still an innocent man.
The next decision to be made is whether the state will retry Thompson and, if so, on what charges. According to court rules, neither the defense nor the prosecution attorneys can reach out to any of the jurors who heard the case for 30 days. Jurors are under no obligation to speak to either side.
As of Wednesday at 6 p.m., Thompson remained in the Belknap County House of Corrections.
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