Court moves on with trial records

  • A Superior Court judge sentenced ex-firefighter arsonist Gregory Potter to 4 to 14 y ears in prison.

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Monday, June 13, 2016 8:14PM

The prospect of whether or not the court will be able to adequately reconstruct testimony given in the case of convicted arsonist and former Peterborough firefighter Gregory Potter remains unclear.

At the Strafford County Superior court Monday Potter, 24, was scheduled to appear and a hearing to discuss whether court notes would be sufficient to replace two day’s worth of audio transcription. The two days were not recorded.

Potter, who was scheduled to attend Monday’s hearing to discuss the progress in reconstructing the record, was unable to be there in person. His lawyers attended the hearing via teleconference.

Deputy County Attorney Alysia Cassotis told the court that the prosecution either had disposed of or had lost notes pertaining to the trial since January, and had nothing to submit to the record to help to reconstruct the record.

Though Judge Steven Houran acknowledged that it was difficult to move forward without the expected presence of Potter during Monday’s hearing, he, with agreement from both sides, proposed that the court move forward with compiling what records did exist – namely, the defense’s trial notes, his own notes, and the notes of the court monitors.

After compiling the available sources, both sides would be given a chance to review them for completeness, said Houran. Houran said he did not want to cause any further undue delay.

“This is certainly a critical step in his case,” said Houran.

Both sides, agreeing that there were no further notes available, agreed to collate what had already been submitted to the court and forward it to the supreme court to review it for completeness.

“This is a somewhat unusual position to be in, but I think what your honor has proposed is reasonable,” said Cassotis.

Potter was convicted of five counts of arson and three of criminal mischief in relation to a string of fires set in Durham in February 2013.

Potter is convicted of setting fires at five University of New Hampshire student apartments, including one which destroyed the apartment and an adjacent barn, for which he was sentences to between 4 and 14 years in prison.

During Potter’s appeal process it was discovered that the audio transcription from Jan. 14 and Jan. 29 were never recorded.

The lost recording included the testimony of two UNH students whose apartment was damaged by one of the fires, and the testimony of Fire Marshall’s Office Investigator William Clark.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 244.