Jury in Skaltsis trial must decide if self-defense or retaliation provoked attack

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Defense attorney Carl Swenson, middle, and defendant Paul Skaltsis listen as prosecutor Tim Sullivan, not shown, describes video that he said shows Skaltsis walking with a knife in front of George and Ed's. (Lebanon Voice photo)

DOVER, N.H. - Jurors are beginning their second day of deliberations today trying to determine whether a Rochester man who tased and cut another man was trying to defend his family or simply out for vigilante justice after his little sister had been harassed and attacked on her way home from school.

The trial of Paul Skaltsis, 26, wrapped up Thursday with Skaltsis, himself, testifying, that he was worried about his family's safety when he went outside and confronted Chris Joaquin and tased him twice after Joaquin threw a punch.

But it didn't end there, Defense attorney Carl Swenson said in closing arguments. Joaquin threatened to go get his posse and return, so when he and his friends came back and banged on the door of Skaltsis' apartment, he had every right to go out with a large kitchen knife and defend his home and hearth, Swenson said.

As the two men squared off May 6, Swenson said Joaquin, the aggressor throughout the incident, threw a punch and Skatsis, in a split second decision, lashed out cutting the man.

But Assistant County Attorney Tim Sullivan painted a far different picture of the day's events, saying it wasn't defense of home and hearth, but "retaliation" and "vigilante justice" that provoked Skaltsis to go looking for Joaquin even after he'd retreated after being tased twice.

To prove his point he showed surveillance video of Skaltsis pacing back and forth in front of George and Ed's convenience store on North Main Street with a knife tucked in his pants.

"He left where his family was, left them unprotected, looking for Chris," Sullivan said in closing arguments. "He could've gone back inside, but went actively searching for them."

Sullivan also questioned why no one in the Skaltsis household called 911 and summoned police if they were scared.

"No one called cause the 'man of the house,' Paul, was 'handling it,'" Sullivan argued.

Sullivan further told jurors that Joaquin said he never came back and banged on the door.

Skaltsis stands charged with four felonies, two tasing counts, one for using a deadly weapon, the knife; and one for assault causing serious bodily injury.

If convicted on all four he could spend up to 28 years in state prison.

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