By Kyle Stucker [email protected]
DOVER — Jordan Lamonde's attorney wasted no time on the first day of his criminal trial Wednesday, admitting right out of the gate his client is guilty of beating a Rochester Planet Fitness employee in June 2017 out of revenge.
However, while defense attorney John Durkin urged the jury to find Lamonde, 23, of Portsmouth, guilty of the attack, Durkin argued the state lacks the evidence required to prove the crime rises to the level of felony second-degree assault.
Instead, Durkin argued Lamonde's “immature” attack is worthy of a lesser misdemeanor simple-assault conviction due to the lack of serious injury to the victim or verbal threats against her life.
“The charge of second-degree assault is out of proportion with the facts here,” Durkin argued.
Lamonde is standing trial in Strafford County Superior Court this week on one count of second-degree assault for punching and kneeing his victim a combined 41 times in the North Main Street gym's parking lot on June 12, 2017. The trial started Wednesday and is scheduled to continue Thursday.
Throughout the state and defense's opening statements and the victim's one-hour testimony Wednesday, it was clear jurors will be asked to primarily focus on whether Lamonde showed extreme indifference to his victim's life when he attacked her from behind on June 12, 2017. That element is one of the requirements of a second-degree assault conviction under New Hampshire law.
Deputy Strafford County Attorney Tim Sullivan argued Lamonde's attack was “dangerous,” “extreme behavior” with a “warped sense of revenge” that risked the victim's life. Sullivan also argued the seriousness of the crime shouldn't be lessened by the fact the victim never lost consciousness and suffered only lumps, bruises, a black eye, a cut under her eye, and various scrapes.
Sullivan and the victim admitted Wednesday those injuries were relatively minor considering Lamonde, according to Sullivan, threw a “knockout” sucker punch and several uppercuts, hooks and other punches during “30-seconds of pent-up fury.”
“(The victim) was lucky,” Sullivan told the jury. “This case is not about whether (the victim's) injuries were serious. (It's about) the blatant disregard for (the victim's) life.”
Sullivan argued several other points while stating the defense's recommendation is inappropriate. He argued Lamonde attacked her in strategic ways to prevent her from having the chance to fully defend herself. He also said each of Lamonde's 41 strikes could constitute a single simple assault charge.
Several other people took the stand Wednesday, including Lamonde's former boss at Home Depot, two Rochester police detectives and one patrol officer, and the woman who identified Lamonde as the attacker after Rochester police posted a snippet of the surveillance video on Facebook while calling for the public's help in the case.
Each discussed evidence and facts of the case, however, the defense isn't disputing the primary facts.
Durkin affirmed that to the jury in his opening statement, going so far as to show the jurors the full surveillance video of the attack while identifying Lamonde as the man jurors could see hitting the victim, throwing her to the ground, and continuing to hit and knee her in the head as she attempted to shield herself from the blows.
Durkin and Sullivan also agreed in their opening statements that Lamonde's motive was revenge. According to each attorney, Lamonde assaulted the victim because her then-boyfriend stole a safe containing $30,000 from Lamonde on New Year's Day 2016.
The victim testified Wednesday that she began dating the alleged safe thief months after the theft occurred and that she never heard Lamonde's name nor had any knowledge of the theft before Lamonde attacked her.
Sullivan spent a fair amount of time Wednesday, both during his opening statement and while questioning witnesses, attempting to show the jury that Lamonde was allegedly obsessed about the safe for months and vowed to repay the crime.
Lamonde's former boss testified Wednesday the obsession affected Lamonde's job performance and coworkers around him.
According to Rochester police affidavit, the safe may have contained undisclosed drugs in addition to the $30,000, although drugs weren't mentioned at any point in court Wednesday.
Durkin described Lamonde's revenge as “unacceptable” while also conceding that his client waited outside the gym for his victim for over eight hours the day of the assault, attacking her after she finished her 2-10 p.m. shift.
"Jordan should be held accountable," Durkin said while reiterating the defense doesn't believe the crime isn't worthy of a felony conviction.
The victim, who has previously agreed to be interviewed by Seacoast Media Group, testified Wednesday that Lamonde said nothing while he hit her and didn't stop hitting her despite her pleas.
“I asked him in the middle of him hitting me why he was doing this and who he was, and he didn't say a single word,” she said.
The attack, according to the victim, ended when Lamonde “kind of just stopped and went to his car.” The victim said she then got up and ran because she thought he was going to run her over with his car. Durkin challenged the latter point on cross-examination, as the victim didn't witness anything that would indicate Lamonde was preparing to run her over.
Lamonde may have messaged the victim through Facebook to apologize after the attack. The victim testified she received a lengthy apology through the social media platform, although she said she couldn't be certain whether it was Lamonde because it came from an account with no photo and listed as “John Dole.”
Throughout much of Wednesday's proceedings, Lamonde appeared to be looking straight ahead toward the front of the courtroom. At various points, he could be seen looking at witnesses and jurors, as well as either taking quick notes or looking over papers on the defense table.
Lamonde didn't speak while jurors were in the courtroom Wednesday, although he did briefly answer questions that Judge Mark Howard posed during multiple periods in which the jury was excused from the room.
One such period came after the victim testified, just before the court broke for lunch. Howard asked Lamonde if he understood the consequences of Durkin inviting a guilty verdict on a misdemeanor simple assault charge. He also asked if Lamonde is authorizing Durkin to do so. Lamonde said only, “Yes,” in reply to Howard's series of questions.
Lamonde's trial will resume at 10 a.m. Thursday. The court has already set aside Friday as another trial day should the trial or jury deliberations not conclude Thursday.
Source : http://www.seacoastonline.com/news/20180801/defense-admits-to-beating-of-planet-fitness-worker