Former Jaffrey man gets new trial in sexual assault case

  • court/crime Jason Morrison

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Monday, October 29, 2018 5:22PM

A former Jaffrey man previously sentenced for sexually assaulting a 5-6 year old relative from 2002 to 2003 will receive a new trial.

Jason Wilbur, 43, has been incarcerated at the New Hampshire State Prison since August 2011.

He was sentenced to 10 to 20 years in prison after a jury found him guilty of two counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault in May 2011.

He was found not guilty of two other charges of aggravated felonious sexual assault during the same trial.

Wilbur appealed for a new trial to the New Hampshire Supreme Court after a prior request was denied by the Superior Court. He argued that his legal representation was constitutionally deficient during the trial.

His request was granted in an opinion issued by Supreme Court Justices on Thursday.

“The cumulative impact of defense counsel’s errors is such that the defendant was prejudiced in this instance,” the opinion reads. “Defense counsel’s errors permitted the State to argue that the defendant impliedly confessed to the crime, while contemporaneously allowing the State to bolster the child’s credibility through the testimony of the CPS (Child Protective Services) worker. Given that the child’s credibility was a central issue in the case... we conclude that there is a reasonable probability that the result of the proceeding would have been different had competent legal representation been provided.”

Wilbur argued that his counsel allowed the state to assert that he intended to “beat” the charges and “get away” with them, implying an admission of guilt rather than an outright denial.

The state backed up their assertions with testimony and about an interview between Wilbur and a detective in the case.

“The State is correct that defense counsel did present evidence that the defendant denied the charges,” the opinion reads. “However, the evidence presented in this regard was far too little, given that counsel did not fully elicit the manner of the defendant’s denial or the number of times that the defendant denied the charges, and, more importantly, permitted the State to effectively paint these denials as disingenuous.”

Wilbur also argued that his counsel should have objected to certain testimony from the Child Protective Services worker that interviewed the victim.

During testimony, the worker said the victim was exhibiting behavior that resulted from sexual abuse that had “been going on for so long.”

“This statement directly associates the defendant with the child’s behavior because the child had stated that the sexual assaults committed by the defendant occurred over a period of time,” the opinion reads. “In contrast, the jury had already heard testimony that while the child had been sexually assaulted by a man other than the defendant, that assault only occurred once, years earlier.”

The Child Protective Services worker’s testimony also offered nothing to rebut Wilbur’s claim that the victim wasn’t telling the truth.