Farmington double-murder trial pushed back till at least next May

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Timothy Verrill smiles at one of his defense attorneys during the October 2019 trial in Strafford Superior Court in Dover (Rochester Voice file photo)

DOVER - The double-murder trial of a Dover man accused in the deaths of two women in Farmington in 2017 is expected to be pushed back to May of next year, three and a half years after his first trial ended in a mistrial, the chief prosecutor in the case said on Tuesday.

Assistant Attorney General Peter Hinckley told The Rochester Voice that the state was ready to go to trial last month, but as a result of a request made by the defense, it had to be postponed again.

Now a May trial is being considered, but no definite date has been set.

It was in the early morning hours of Jan. 29, 2017, that Farmington Police made a grisly discovery at 979 Meaderboro Road.

When they arrived they found the bodies of two women under a tarp beneath outdoor stairs that led to a second-floor deck.

Christine Sullivan, 48, who split her time between southwest Florida and Farmington; and Jenna Pellegrini, 32, of Barrington, were found to have both died of multiple stab wounds, according to a coroner's report, with Sullivan also sustaining at least one blunt force trauma to the head.

The owner of the house, Dean Smoronk, a convicted drug trafficker, made the 911 call that drew police, who searched the premises and found the bodies.

It was later determined that the women died two days earlier, on Jan. 27, 2017.

Before Smoronk called police he reviewed surveillance footage from his home security system, which is now part of voluminous evidence files that numbers in the tens of thousands of listed items.

Timothy Verrill, 39, formerly of Dover, was arrested in the double murders on Feb. 6, 2017, in Lawrence, Mass. Verrill, who is listed as 6-2 and 280 pounds, has now been incarcerated for almost six years. He is now awaiting his second trial after his first trial in October 2019 ended with the defense calling for a mistrial, which was granted by Strafford Superior Court Judge Steven Houran.

The defense called for the mistrial after voluminous amounts of evidence, some that could have been deemed exculpatory, were found by investigators of the New Hampshire State Police Major Crimes Unit.

Verrill's defense attorneys then sought to have the case dismissed with prejudice due to double jeopardy and due process, but Strafford Superior Court Judge Mark E. Howard and the New Hampshire Supreme Court later agreed that the MCU's shoddy handling of evidence did not reach to the level of egregiousness that would force a dismissal of the charges and the release of Verrill.

Another development in the case occurred just this past September when prosecutors motioned to admit former testimony of an unavailable witness, Steven Clough, who died in a motorcycle accident in Arizona in August.

Verrill's defense team is arguing that Clough's testimony should not be allowed as they won't be able to cross-examine him. The issue is not yet settled, according to court documents.

The investigation into the slayings involved numerous witnesses at the house around the time of the murders and people believed to have been involved in drug operations headed by Smoronk and Sullivan.

Verrill was alleged to have worked for Smoronk and Sullivan in that operation, according to prosecutors at the 2019 trial, which was more than half over when the mistrial was declared.

Smoronk has never been mentioned as a suspect by prosecutors, however defense attorneys sought to portray him and several others as alternative suspects.

Smoronk, who was listed as both a prosecution and defense witness in the 2019 trial, pleaded guilty to trafficking meth in September 2019 and was sentenced to 42 months by the U.S. District Court for the state of New Hampshire.

He was released from a Residential Re-entry Management center in Philadelphia around Jan. 9, 2021.

Verrill remains held at the Carroll County House of Corrections. He faces life in prison without parole if found guilty. He has been incarcerated since Feb. 6, 2017, when he was arrested as a fugitive from justice.

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