Farmington double-murder trial postponed till October, could last six weeks

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Double-murder suspect Tim Verrill is led by bailiffs and Sheriff's Deputies as he enters a Strafford County Superior Court hearing room for a bail hearing in 2017. Insets, slain women Christine Sullivan and Jenna Pellegrini; and homeowner Dean Smoronk.

DOVER - It is one of the most highly anticipated and likely one of the most complex murder trials ever to be held in Strafford County Superior Court.

And you'll have to wait an extra six months to watch it play out.

The first-degree murder trial of Timothy Verrill, who is accused of brutally stabbing to death two women inside the Farmington home of convicted drug dealer Dean Smoronk on Jan. 27, 2017, was scheduled to start in May, but has been postponed until October.

Senior Assistant Attorney General Geoff Ward said on Tuesday that the latest request for a postponement came from defense counsel, but noted that extensions in cases like this are not uncommon.

Verrill, 36, formerly of 38 Cushing St., Dover, faces first degree murder charges in the stabbing deaths of Christine Sullivan, 48, who was the longtime girlfriend of Smoronk; and Jenna Pellegrini, 32, of Barrington, whom Verrill believed to be an informant, according to testimony from State Police Detective Brian Strong at a bail hearing in 2017.

Verrill remains on no bond at a New Hampshire prison facility. He was last reported to be held at Carroll County Jail.

An eight-day jury selection process is slated to start at the beginning of October. Ward said there could easily be more than 100 selected as part of the juror pool. From them a jury of 12 with two alternates will be selected.

Following jury selection the trial will begin on or around Oct. 10, a Thursday, and is scheduled to run through Nov. 21.

Ward said he was not at liberty to estimate how many witnesses might be part of the prosecution or defense teams' case.

Beside the witnesses, evidence is expected to include thousands of pages of documents as well as dozens of CDs containing audio recordings and photographs.

To add to the evidentiary mix Amazon received a court order to attempt to capture potential voice recordings leading up to the killings made on an Alexa device located in the kitchen of Smoronk's Meaderboro Road home.

During the bail hearing Strong testified that police believe Smoronk returned home from Florida around 1:30 a.m. on Sunday, Jan. 29 a.m., after being picked up at Logan International Airport by a friend.

When they arrived at Smoronk's home in Farmington, Strong said Smoronk asked his friend to help him "clear the house" to make sure nobody was inside.

While inside they both noticed blood on the mattress in the main bedroom, Strong said, adding Smoronk then said he'd call 911 and the friend left.

Smoronk, however, didn't call police until around 3:30 a.m., about two hours after he had arrived. Strong testified that Smoronk told police he wanted to review video footage on his home surveillance system before calling police.

Under cross-examination from public defender Melissa Davis, Strong's testimony revealed the extent of the alleged drug empire run by both Smoronk and Sullivan that allegedly included ties to drug cartels, gangs, motorcycle clubs and a host of dealers and users both in the northern Seacoast and in Florida.

Further, it was revealed under cross-examination by Davis that Sullivan was in the throes of seeking a split in her relationship with her longtime boyfriend.

Verrill was arrested on Feb. 6, 2017, a day after seeking treatment at a Lawrence, Mass., drug counseling facility.

Strong also testified that Verrill, who has been incarcerated at jails in Strafford, Merrimack and Carroll counties, reportedly told one inmate "I killed two girls in Farmington, but I'm not taking the blame. Smoronk is."

Smoronk, meanwhile, who has never been implicated in the killings, was indicted in January on drug trafficking charges by a U.S. District Court grand jury.

The indictment, which was filed on Jan. 9, accuses Smoronk, 57, of trafficking in five grams or more of "methamphetamine, its salts, isomers, and salts of its isomers" between sometime in early July and July 12 of last year in "New Hampshire and elsewhere."

The indictment came as a complete surprise, since the feds had never announced such a drug arrest, despite having taken Smoronk into custody in December on a charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm as part of a Strafford County drug sweep. Smoronk was accused of trying to sell a Sig Sauer P-320 9 mm originally stolen out of Milton.

In another development reported first by The Rochester Voice, a public affairs spokesman for the South Carolina Attorney Generals Office said that Smoronk is due in court there for his alleged involvement in a meth trafficking and bomb-making arrest from 2014.

A jury trial there is set for May 13.

"If he doesn't show up for his April appearance, we'll issue a bench warrant," said the spokesman, who noted that Smoronk's lawyer had told them he'd lost contact with his client.

Autopsies in the double killings revealed Sullivan had a fractured skull and was stabbed in the neck and lungs, while Pellegrini had been stabbed in the neck, torso and back 43 times.

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