High Court to consider overturning of Rochester man's conviction in 2014 murder

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Tristan Wolusky during court appearance in December 2015. (Rochester Voice file photo)

CONCORD - New Hampshire's Supreme Court will hear arguments later this month on whether a Rochester man convicted in the grisly gang murder of a Madbury teen should have his guilty verdict overturned.

Tristan Wolusky, 25, formerly of Lowell Street, was portrayed by prosecutors as the mastermind in the killing of 18-year-old Aaron Wilkinson during a botched drug robbery outside his Madbury home in 2014.

One of his appeals claims that will be argued before the high court is that his defense lawyer was ineffective, according to court documents.

Wolusky's current defense attorney Jaye L. Rancourt will make the case during a 15-minute oral argument on May 27.

Wolusky has been fighting his conviction since a jury found him guilty in October 2015.

The Supreme Court will consider the case for overturning his conviction along two lines.

One will be related to the trial itself, including that the verdict was against the weight of evidence, that trial rulings regarding depositions were improper and that there was perjured testimony. The other appeal will be based on Wolusky's contention that he lacked effective counsel at trial.

Wilkinson, 18, died during a June 21, 2014, botched robbery by Wolusky, Zachary Pinette, of Springvale, Maine, and Michael Tatum of Barrington who had hatched a scheme to steal drugs and money. Wilkinson was stabbed and struck with a machete more than 20 times, according to a coroner's report. The three men then dumped his body by the side of Long Swamp Road in Lebanon, Maine.

Pinette and Tatum both got 30-year sentence with the possibility of parole, while Wolusky got life without parole.

Pinette and Tatum received the lighter sentences for turning state's evidence against Wolusky, the purported ringleader.

In 2016 the Wolusky defense team sought a new trial after it said Pinette and Tatum had recanted their trial testimony and were now saying they never saw Wolusky stab Wilkerson.

But testimony during the appeal revealed that both Pinette and Tatum had said that "no one should do life (in prison)," however, and Pinette had said he still considered Wolusky a friend.

Also during the appeal it was learned that Wolusky, Pinette and Tatum had ongoing contact with each other inside prison which gave them ample opportunity to concoct a scheme to benefit Wolusky.

In his decision denying the new trial, Strafford County Superior Court Judge Steven Houran noted that "Pinette's personal relationship with Wolusky and his fear of being labeled a "rat" suggest a strong motive to help Wolusky and change his testimony."

In fact, on Aug. 15, 2016, saying he thought no one should do life in prison and lured by the promise of money and protection, Tatum admitted he and Pinette agreed in prison to a scheme hatched by Wolusky to help him get a new trial.

Those recantations, however, will not be part of what is argued before the high court.

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