Clegg trial still on track for July after 3-day hearing

Concord Det. Wade Brown answers questions from defense attorney Mariana Dominguez about the Concord crime scene Friday in Merrimack County Superior Court. It was the final day of a suppression hearing leading up to the July trial of Logan Clegg on charges he murdered Djeswende and Stephen Reid, of Concord, in April 2022. WMR livestream screen image

CONCORD, NH – Attorneys said Friday they’re still on track for a July trial for Logan Clegg after a three-day hearing on a defense motion to suppress some of the evidence in the case.

 Clegg, 27, is charged with murdering Djeswende and Stephen Ried, of Concord, in April 2022. The hearing in Merrimack County Superior Court wrapped up with Clegg pleading not guilty to a new charge of destroying evidence in the case after a full day of testimony on the motions Friday.

Judge John Kissinger is deliberating on whether to suppress evidence gathered after cellphone pings led police to arrest Clegg in South Burlington, Vermont, in October, as well as statements Clegg made to Concord police after that arrest.

Clegg is charged with second-degree murder in the deaths of Djsesende, 66, and Stephen Reid, 67, who were shot to death while on a walk in the Broken Ground Trail system near their Loudon Road apartment on April 18, 2022. Their bodies were found three days later about 100 feet off the trail, covered with sticks and leaves.

Originally scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, the hearing, which included testimony from Concord police investigators stretched to the end of the day Friday. Kissinger, at its conclusion, asked defense attorneys Caroline Smith and Mariana Dominguez whether they would still be ready for the trial, which begins with jury selection July 10. They said they would, pending results from DNA testing in the case.

Interrogation Tactics Questioned

Friday’s testimony focused in part on whether Concord Det. Wade Brown had pushed Clegg to speak more after he’d invoked his right to silence after his arrest. Brown interrogated Clegg in Vermont in the hours after his arrest on Utah fugitive charges Oct. 12, and again on Oct. 13 and Oct. 19.

In the first interrogation session, about three hours after Clegg was arrested, Brown and Clegg talked about some of the evidence in the Reid murder case. Clegg said he didn’t know about it and repeatedly denied involvement. After a break of 36 minutes, when the interrogation resumed, Clegg at some point said either said “please stop” or “will you stop,” and said they were going around in circles.

Brown testified Friday that it wasn’t clear to him that Clegg was invoking his right to silence, but simply that he didn’t want to talk about that topic anymore.

Brown said his conversation with Clegg after that was about “benign” issues. He’d earlier testified that he tried to build a rapport with defendants as a tactic to elicit information from them.

Clegg largely refused to engage after he asked Brown to stop, but in a subsequent encounter did volunteer his pants size when police offered to buy him some clothes to replace the ones they had to take into evidence. A jeans label with a pants size had been found at a tent site in the Broken Ground Trails System in Concord that investigators believe belonged to Clegg.

Smith, the defense attorney, argued  to Judge Kissinger that whether Brown’s intent was benign or not, his persistence on engaging after Clegg had invoked his right to stop talking to police elicited possible evidence in violation of that right.

“What he’s doing is very calculated to keep Logan talking, to give information,” Smith said. She said the information “may be very benign or may not be benign, but [Brown] wants more and more and more” and wants “the interrogation process to continue.”

Kissinger told Smith he can’t imagine how anything Clegg said after he told Brown to stop would be introduced at trial.

“I can’t either,” Smith said. But, she said, Brown’s intent was to push past any assertion of silence by Clegg in order to keep him talking and possibly get information and that she doesn’t think the state can meet the burden of proof needed to show they didn’t violate that right. 

Smith pointed to the fact that Brown had testified being nice and building a rapport was a tactic he used to get defendants to confide in him.

“Essentially you can’t violate someone’s rights under the guise of being nice,” Smith said.

But Assistant Attorney General Danielle Sakowski told Kissinger, “Rapport-building is not an interrogation.”

She said that Clegg had to unequivocally invoke his right to silence, and once he did, and asked for an attorney, Brown stopped interrogating him.

Sakowksi said that there was no investigative intent in finding out Clegg’s clothing sizes. 

Kissinger asked, that since the question about Clegg’s clothing was a specific question one that could link to the crime scene, if it was the prosecution’s opinion it was a permissible question.

Sakowski said it was because of the context, that police were simply asking Clegg so they could get clothing for him. “I don’t believe Det. Brown was attempting to elicit,” she said.

She also said that the Miranda warning Brown had given Clegg at the beginning of the Oct. 12 interview, which determines whether a person being interrogated understands their right to silence and to ask for an attorney, was done correctly. Clegg had checked “yes” next to the specific questions asking if he understood his rights and signed it.

The defense questioned the process, since the Miranda portion of Clegg’s Oct. 12 was not recorded because of technical glitch at the South Burlington police station, where it was held, and also whether it was clear that he’d waived his right to an attorney at that point.

Lack of Warrant Questioned

Friday’s testimony also continued the arguments from Thursday over whether Concord police should have gotten a warrant to get Verizon location information that led them to Clegg in Vermont.

The prosecution asserts that waiting for a warrant, and then for Verizon to provide the location information, would’ve taken too long. Clegg had a ticket for a flight from New York City to Berlin, Germany, booked for Oct. 13, and police believed he was dangerous and armed. Police used the “exigent circumstances” rule to get the information, with initial pings provided about half an hour after they made the request. The rule allows law enforcement to get information without a warrant if it meets a certain emergency threshold.

The defense argued that law enforcement could’ve used the exigent circumstances request while still getting a search warrant to back it up. A search warrant must show probable cause for the action, as a way to protect individuals from unlawful search and seizures under the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution. Showing probable cause means that a judge determined there is a good reason for the search, and then signs the warrant that allows it. 

The defense also questioned parts of the police investigation in the days after the Reids’ bodies were found, arguing that it’s relevant to their motions since the investigation created the probable cause for the exigency request. A topic all three days of the hearing, defense questioned whether Clegg had time to shoot the Reids and drag their bodies to the spot about 100 feet off the trail where the were found, get back on the trail, pick up his grocery bag, and look unruffled when a woman walking her dogs encountered him about five minutes after she heard gunshots.

Brown, the Concord detective, had recreated the scenario using weighted dummies and wrote in his report he was winded after, but recovered within five minutes.

Defense attorney Mariana Dominguez and Brown went back and forth on whether the “five minutes” referred to the entire process, as Brown asserted, or that it meant five minutes after he’d completed the recreation.

The prosecution didn’t address most of the details of the defense arguments about the investigation, aside from direct questioning before cross-examination of the police detectives. But they argued that the probable cause to make the Verizon exigency request only included the immediate circumstances leading up to the request, and not the body of the investigation.

Not Guilty Plea on New Indictment

Clegg was arrested and charged with the Reid killings on Oct. 19. His Oct. 12 arrest was on a fugitive charge out of Utah, where he’d violated probation on a robbery conviction by fleeing the state. 

Concord police asked Utah to expand the extradition area for the fugitive warrant east of the Mississippi after learning Clegg’s identify weeks before his arrest. When Concord police tracked him to Vermont, they brought police there into the investigation so Clegg could immediately be arrested on the fugitive charge while Concord police worked on getting a warrant to arrest him on the New Hampshire charges. That warrant was completed Oct. 18. The affidavit leading to the arrest warrant, 24 pages long, was released to the public Jan. 30. 

Much of the three-day testimony this week by police is also detailed in the affidavit, but the specifics of the Vermont interrogations, and some of the New Hampshire crime scene investigation that was discussed is not.

At the end of Friday’s hearing, Clegg pleaded not guilty on charges of falsifying physical evidence. He was indicted May 17 by a Merrimack County Grand Jury on the Class B felony, which charges that Clegg destroyed evidence on his laptop computer on April 21, 2022, the day the Reids’ bodies were found.

Prosecutors say that Clegg, believing that an official investigation was about to launch, “altered, destroyed, concealed, or removed anything with a purpose to impair its verity or availability in such proceeding or investigation by destroying or removing information from his laptop computer.” 

Clegg was previously indicted on eight charges, including two counts of second-degree murder for “knowingly causing the death” of each of the Reids, two alternative second-degree murder charges for “recklessly causing” their deaths, three counts of falsifying physical evidence and one count of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. His indictment on those charges was announced Jan. 19.

Clegg is being held without bail in Merrimack County Jail. Jury selection for his trial is scheduled to begin July 10, and the trial itself July 11.