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AG Won’t Retry Woodburn in Domestic Violence Case, but Jail Time Still Looms

Former Democratic Senate Minority Leader Jeff Woodburn (D-Whitefield) won’t go to trial a third time on domestic violence charges as New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella decided to drop the case.

“The state has tried Mr. Woodburn twice and secured convictions on certain charges against him. Taking into consideration the recent mistrial after a hung jury on several remaining charges, as well as other relevant factors, I have made the decision to not bring these remaining charges against Mr. Woodburn to trial a third time,” Formella said in a statement.

But Woodburn’s not free and clear of the scandal that ended his political career in 2018. He’s still fighting to appeal his convictions on two criminal mischief charges against the same alleged victim. Woodburn has two 30-day jail sentences hanging over him, though both of those sentences are stayed pending appeal. 

Mark Sisti, Woodburn’s attorney, said his client’s future remains up in the air until the state Supreme Court weighs in.

“There’s nothing solid right now,” Sisti said.

Woodburn was arrested in 2018 on charges he assaulted his former girlfriend in a series of incidents going back to December 2017. He was convicted at the 2021 trial on counts of domestic violence, simple assault, and criminal mischief. A subsequent Supreme Court decision overturned the domestic violence and simple assault convictions on the ground Woodburn was blocked from arguing self defense at the 2021 trial.

At the second trial this spring Woodburn was able to make his case that he was defending himself against his girlfriend when he bit her hand. The result was a hung jury and a mistrial. 

Rather than take the victim through another trial, and risk another loss in Coos Superior Court, Formella made the call to end the case.

“After prosecuting this case for nearly six years and two jury trials, I do not reach this decision lightly. Domestic violence is a serious, ongoing issue that must be addressed with the utmost care and resolve,” Formella said.

Woodburn lost political support almost immediately after he was charged in 2018, with Democratic leaders calling on him to step aside. Instead, Woodburn ran and won a primary to retain his Senate seat. But he lost the general election to an unknown Republican candidate and has been out of politics since.

Democratic Party Chair Raymond Buckley declined to respond to a request for comment. Sen. Donna Soucy (D-Manchester) who is serving as Senate Minority Leader, also refused to comment.

Formella thanked the victim for her bravery in repeatedly testifying against Woodburn, as did Amanda Grady Sexton, director of public affairs for the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence.

“We have nothing but admiration for the brave survivor who shared her truth and paved the way for so many other domestic violence victims to break their silence. This survivor endured six years of legal proceedings in a high-profile case brought against Mr. Woodburn, who was in a position of power with higher political ambitions,” Grady Sexton said.

In Wednesday’s statement, Formella anticipates winning the next round at the Supreme Court and seeing Woodburn serve time for the criminal mischief convictions. Sisti warned the case isn’t over yet.

“I’m glad they seem very optimistic, but I’ll leave it to the Supreme Court to decide if Jeff goes to jail,” Sisti said.

Woodburn’s Domestic Abuse Trial Ends With Hung Jury

The state’s second domestic abuse trial against former Democratic Senate Minority Leader Jeffrey Woodburn ended in a hung jury Thursday.

Jurors were unable to come to a unanimous guilty or not guilty verdict following the one-day trial in Coös Superior Court, forcing Judge Peter Bornstein to declare a mistrial.

Woodburn’s lawyer, Mark Sisti, told NHJournal he suspects jurors could not agree on whether or not his client acted in self-defense when he bit the alleged victim during a 2017 altercation.

“Most of the facts were already stipulated. The real question is whether it was self-defense,” Siti said.

One of the jury’s questions to the court during deliberation sought clarification on what constitutes a criminal assault.

“Is grabbing someone’s phone considering the time, place, and circumstances an act of assault or confinement?” a juror asked.

Bornstein responded that the facts were up to them to determine based on what they heard at trial and that they should look at the incident in total.

The judge wrote back, “You should consider all the facts and circumstances at that time and place based on the evidence presented.”

The vote split among jurors was not known Thursday, and Sisti said he would not be able to communicate with any jurors for 30 days following the trial. What’s also unknown is if the state plans to try for a third trial against Woodburn.

Reached for comment, New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella’s spokesman, Michael Garrity, told NHJournal no decision on a potential third trial has been made.

“We have not made any decision on whether to retry this matter. We will make that decision after due consideration,” Garrity said.

Sisti is prepared to keep fighting if there is a third trial, saying Woodburn has no intention of backing down.

“We’re going all the way. This is a case he’s not going to drop,” Sisti said.

Thursday’s mistrial shows the strength of Woodburn’s position, according to Sisti. The state likely cannot prove the case to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt, he believes.

The New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, which has commented on the case in the past, did not offer a take on Thursday’s mistrial. Instead, it sent NHJournal a statement reminding all survivors of domestic violence that help is available.

“Survivors should not feel alone in New Hampshire. An advocate is available 24/7 and is a phone call away. The statewide hotline is 1-866-644-3574.”

The charges stem from Woodburn’s actions related to three separate incidents, according to court records. In the first instance, Woodburn and the woman arrived in separate vehicles at a Dec. 15, 2017, Christmas party. The woman agreed to drive him home so that Woodburn would be able to drink at the party. During an argument on the drive home, Woodburn had the woman pull over, and during a struggle over his phone, he bit her hand, according to court records.

On Christmas Eve of that same year, Woodburn kicked the door to the woman’s house after she refused to let him inside. Earlier that year, in August 2017, he reportedly kicked her clothes drier, breaking the appliance, according to court records.

The woman went on record telling Bornstein that during one of her struggles with Woodburn, she tried to grab his phone without permission.

Woodburn was convicted in 2021 on two counts of criminal mischief, one count of domestic violence, and one count of simple assault. Last year, the New Hampshire Supreme Court overturned the simple assault and domestic violence convictions, ruling Woodburn was denied a fair trial because he had been prevented from arguing self-defense in front of the first jury.

The criminal mischief convictions and 30-day jail sentences are both still pending another appeal to the state Supreme Court. 

Woodburn was formally charged in August 2018 but still ran for reelection to the state Senate despite calls for his resignation. He won the Democratic primary but lost in the general election.

In Domestic Violence Trial, Dem Woodburn Wants Biting To Count as Self-Defense

According to his attorney, jurors should be ordered to consider biting as self-defense when they deliberate the simple assault and domestic abuse charges against Jeffrey Woodburn.

The disgraced Democratic former state Senate Minority Leader is gearing up for his second trial on allegations he assaulted his former girlfriend on multiple occasions. His arrest six years ago resulted in a trial, conviction, and multiple appeals — not to mention the end of his political career. 

Woodburn continues to fight the charges.

The Coos County Democrat was convicted in 2022, but the state Supreme Court tossed those convictions last year because he was originally barred from making the case he acted in self-defense. That sent the case back to Coos Superior Court for a new trial.

Woodburn’s attorney, Mark Sisti, filed his version of proposed jury instructions ahead of the sequel trial slated to start next week. The jury instructions make it clear Woodburn will try to justify his use of physical violence against his former girlfriend.

“A person has the right to utilize non-deadly force when he can reasonably believe that such force is necessary in order to defend himself. In this case, Jeffrey Woodburn asserts that his act of physical contact, including biting the alleged victim, was necessary as he reasonably believed that the complainant posed an imminent threat of restraining him from exiting the car,” according to the Woodburn defense documents.

According to court records, Woodburn bit the woman during a December 2017 argument as she was driving him back from a party. An intoxicated Woodburn demanded to be let out of the car, and he planned to call a friend for a ride. When the woman reached to take his phone, he allegedly bit her hand, according to the allegations.

While Woodburn was not able to cast blame on the victim at his original trial, the Supreme Court’s ruling means he can now claim the woman’s past aggressiveness when dealing with him, usually when he was intoxicated, to justify his actions. 

According to the proposed jury instructions, Woodburn will argue he was acting out of the “heat of passion” and shouldn’t be judged with hindsight.

“In deciding whether the defendant acted in self-defense, you should consider all of the circumstances surrounding the incident. You should consider how the defendant acted under the circumstances as they were presented to him at the time and not necessarily as they appear upon detached reflection. You should consider whether the defendant’s belief that it was necessary to use non-deadly force was reasonable when he acted in the heat of passion,” the proposed instructions state.

It will ultimately be up to a jury to decide if Woodburn’s self-defense claims are enough to keep him from consequences. His related convictions on charges of criminal mischief were upheld on appeal, but Woodburn has yet to serve any jail time as the 30-day sentences were stayed pending the new trial.

According to court records, Woodburn kicked the door to the woman’s house and she refused to let him inside about a week after the fight in the car. Earlier that year, in August 2017, he reportedly kicked her clothes dryer, breaking the appliance, according to court records.

Woodburn’s tenacity in fighting the charges is similar to his scramble to stay in politics after his arrest in the summer of 2018. Despite calls from state Democrats to resign, Woodburn ran for reelection and won the primary in September 2018. He went on to lose the general election that November.

No More Delays in Second Woodburn Abuse Trial

Coos Superior Court Judge Peter Bornstein rejected a last-minute attempt to delay former state Senate Democratic Leader Jeff Woodburn’s second domestic abuse trial.

Woodburn’s attorney, Mark Sisti, asked for a delay weeks before the March 12 trial is set to start so that he could attend to his duties as the Gilmanton Town Moderator. Gilmanton’s annual town elections are also slated for March 12.

In his order denying the delay request, Bornstein wrote Sisti knew about the conflict for several months and should have said something earlier. He wrote that Sisti’s “eleventh-hour” request fails to show any good cause for rescheduling.

“Defense counsel likely knew or should have known at least eight months ago that the 2024 Gilmanton town meeting was scheduled for March 12, 2024, inasmuch as the date of annual town meetings in New Hampshire is prescribed by statute,” Bornstein wrote.

As moderator, Sisti is required to oversee elections in Gilmanton, and to make sure the vote totals are certified after polls close. While New Hampshire law allows a moderator to appoint a substitute moderator, Sisti would not tell NHJournal how he planned to cover the trial and the election.

“Of course, I will be at the trial,” Sisti said in an email response to NHJournal. “I have already taken care of the election situation…all is fine.”

Gilmanton Town Clerk Elise Smith told NHJournal it is her understanding that Sisti will open the polls at 7 a.m., then take a “long lunch” before coming back in time to oversee the end of the vote. Sisti is a top attorney in New Hampshire, and Election Day conflicts have happened before.

“This is not the first time this has happened with Moderator Mark Sisti,” Smith said.

Now that Sisti is prepared to pull double duty on March 12, the way is clear for Woodburn to finally return to court for his second trial on the simple assault and domestic violence charges.

Woodburn was originally charged in August 2018 while he served as Minority Leader in the state Senate. He ignored months of pressure to resign and won the 2018 Democratic primary even as the charges swirled. Woodburn went on to lose the general election to an obscure Republican opponent.

Woodburn was convicted in 2021 after a trial, but those convictions were overturned last year by the New Hampshire Supreme Court.

The state Supreme Court ruled Woodburn was entitled to a new trial because he was not allowed to use a self-defense argument in the original proceedings.

The simple assault and domestic violence convictions stem from Woodburn’s violent actions against a woman he was romantically involved with at the time. According to court records, Woodburn struggled over a phone, and he bit her hand. In another incident on Christmas Eve 2017, Woodburn kicked the door of the woman’s house when she refused to let him enter. He had previously kicked her clothes dryer, breaking the appliance.

Woodburn was also convicted in 2021 on two counts of criminal mischief in the same case. He’s facing 30 days in jail on those convictions. He is currently free, pending another appeal. 

AG Report: GOP Lawyer Talcott Killed by Wife in Self Defense

Alex Talcott’s frightening spiral of depression, abuse, and suicide threats ended in an attack on his wife that forced her to kill him in self-defense, according to a report released Thursday by the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office.

“I’m going to kill you and kill the kids, and then I am going to kill myself because you know I can’t take care of them,” Alex Talcott reportedly told Kristin Talcott during the Aug. 26, 2023 attack.

Kristin Talcott will not be charged for fatally stabbing her husband in the neck, as the Attorney General’s Office ruled it a legally justifiable act taken in self-defense.

A long-time GOP activist, news of Alex Talcott’s death sent shockwaves through his circle of friends and the state Republican Party, though the details of his tortured final months were not known. At 41, Alex Talcott was deeply in debt, unemployed, and resigned to losing the house where he lived with his wife and their three young children.

Friends who had interacted with Alex Talcott in his final months told investigators he seemed depressed and stressed, but they did not know the full details of his struggle. 

Several GOP sources told NHJournal he had reached out to them looking for help finding a job, a sign of financial trouble that caught them by surprise.

Kristin Talcott told investigators she did not know about the family’s precarious financial position until early in 2023. That was when she learned her husband’s real estate ventures collapsed, the family did not have health insurance due to missed payments, they were several months behind on the mortgage, their credit cards were maxed out, and Alex Talcott had not filed tax returns in years.

Kristin Talcott, 41, was a stay-at-home mom who homeschooled their children and left the family’s money management to her husband. The couple met while attending Dartmouth College. Alex Talcott was a licensed attorney, though he had stopped practicing law to venture into real estate entrepreneurship. 

That was when Alex Talcott’s mental health started failing, according to the report. He fell into depression and told Kristin Talcott he wanted to kill himself. He also started to be verbally abusive, she told investigators.

There were also instances of Alex Talcott’s behavior stooping to “physical aggression,” according to the report. Kristin Talcott told investigators there were isolated incidents, and she did not report them out of embarrassment. 

Last summer, Alex Talcott borrowed more and more money from friends and family as he looked for a job with a high salary. Kristin Talcott, a licensed social worker, renewed her license and started a practice in order to bring in money for the family.

Kristin Talcott begged her husband to seek therapy and take medication for his eroding mental health. But he became more erratic and volatile, she told investigators. It was at that point she started to make plans to leave with the children.

Kristin took the children for an overnight trip to Massachusetts to visit her parents on Aug. 24, returning on the evening of Aug. 25. She went to bed around 8:30 p.m. in the area of the house where the children slept. The couple had slept separately for some time, and Kristin Talcott had begun sleeping with a can of pepper spray due to fear of her husband.

At 1:30 in the morning on Aug. 26, Alex Talcott woke his wife to talk. She told investigators he seemed calm when they went to the master bedroom and sat on the side of the bed. Alex Talcott revealed he found notes she had written about her plans to separate. Kristin Talcott kept the plans secret, fearing Alex Talcott’s reaction.

“You really think I would let you and the kids leave?” He reportedly said.

He pulled out a kitchen knife and began cutting Kristin Talcott, she told investigators. She begged him to stop, but he continued to cut her, telling her he would never let her leave. Kristin Talcott took the pepper spray from her pocket and sprayed him. He fell back on the bed, and she grabbed the knife and stabbed him in the neck, she told investigators.

Kristin Talcott dropped the knife after she stabbed her husband. Alex Talcott’s demeanor seemed to change after his wife fought back. He started to tell her he loved her and how he was “going to get this fixed.”

Kristin Talcott, still terrified, tried to get Alex Talcott to lie down. He would not let her call the police but instead went on about how he would “figure this out.”

“You’re crazy,” Kristin Talcott responded.

That set Alex Talcott off again. He got the knife and pushed her against the wall. He thrust the knife at her stomach, jabbing it toward her. As he did so, he told his wife of 17 years he was going to kill her, the children, and then himself.

Kristin Talcott struggled and got control of the knife. Again, she stabbed him in the neck. He stopped attacking her and stumbled into the master bathroom. Kristen Talcott told investigators she did not have her cell phone, and she could not unlock her husband’s cell phone to call 911. She did not want to leave, as she was still frightened he would attack her again.

“I wasn’t going to leave him while I still thought he could still come after me,” she told investigators.

From the bathroom, Alex Talcott asked his wife for a piece of fruit. He also asked her to call the police. Kristin Talcott lied and told him the police were already on their way. He then fell to the floor of the bathroom. Kristin Talcott told investigators she felt it was now safe to leave and ran to get her cell phone from the room she shared with her children.

Kristin Talcott called the police and then got an apple to bring to her husband. She told investigators she knew fetching the apple was “weird” but explained, “This is the person I loved for 20 years.”

Alex Talcott was alive when his wife called 911 but died soon after, according to the report. Police found Kristen Talcott bleeding from her many wounds. She had cuts on her hands, arms, abdomen, shoulder, neck and chest. 

The couple’s children were not physically harmed during the violence, according to the report.

Judge Blocks Woodburn’s Request for ‘Blame the Victim’ Defense in Domestic Violence Case

Disgraced former State Sen. Jeffrey Woodburn is not being allowed to introduce evidence that he claims shows the alleged victim had a history of causing the kind of fights that led to his alleged crimes.

Woodburn, once one of the highest-ranking elected Democrats in state government, continues to fight hard against the domestic violence charges that have hung over him since his 2018 arrest. He is heading for a new trial on one count of domestic violence and one count of simple assault after the New Hampshire Supreme Court ruled he was denied the ability to argue self-defense.

On Friday, Coos Superior Court Judge Peter Bornstein denied Woodburn’s request to introduce evidence of prior instances that “physically interfered with his attempts to avoid conflict.”

Woodburn’s attorney, Mark Sisti, filed a motion to allow this evidence, even though it detailed incidents that predate the alleged violence for which he had originally been convicted. 

“Testimony concerning Jeff Woodburn’s prior attempts to avoid conflict and the alleged victim’s behavior about those attempts are admissible and relevant to his mental state at the time of this alleged offense,” Sisti wrote.

Assistant Attorney General Zachary Wolfe’s objection pointed out Sisti and Woodburn supply no details about this “vague, amorphous” evidence, making it impossible to counter in court or even prove they actually happened.

“The defendant’s motion fails to identify not only the specific instances of conduct he wishes to introduce, but also any specific legal grounds justifying his request,” Wolfe wrote.

While the Supreme Court ruled Woodburn can use evidence demonstrating his claim of self-defense for the actions covered in the trial, Bornstein wrote in his order that it does not open the door for what is essentially the unspecified evidence Woodburn is claiming.

“Among other things, the defendant has not identified any of the alleged victim’s prior acts as to which he seeks to introduce evidence or the approximate date(s) on which he alleges occurred,” Bornstein wrote. 

The simple assault and domestic violence convictions stem from Woodburn’s violent actions related to three separate incidents, according to court records. In the first instance, Woodburn and the woman arrived in separate vehicles at a Dec. 15, 2017, Christmas party, and the woman agreed to drive him home so that Woodburn could drink at the party. During an argument on the drive home, Woodburn had the woman pull over, and during a struggle over his phone, he bit her hand, according to court records.

On Christmas Eve that same year, Woodburn kicked the door to the woman’s house when she refused to let him inside. In August 2017, he reportedly kicked her clothes dryer earlier that year, breaking the appliance, according to court records.

The woman went on record telling Bornstein that at one point during one of her struggles with Woodburn, she tried to grab his phone without permission. Bornstein stated in court that it did not rise to the level of behavior allowing Woodburn’s self-defense claims.

Woodburn’s new trial on the two charges is slated for next year. The North Country Democrat has already been convicted on two counts of criminal mischief and is facing 30 days in jail. He is also free while he appeals Bornstein’s August ruling denying a new trial on these charges.

Woodburn is just one of several Granite State Democrats embroiled in legal scandals. Strafford County Sheriff Mark Brave is on paid leave and facing charges of stealing tax dollars to pay for trysts with a series of paramours. Former state Rep. Stacie Laughton (D-Nashua) is in jail awaiting trial on child pornography charges. And two-time Democratic candidate for governor, former Portsmouth Mayor Steve Marchand, has just been called out for a second time by the state attorney general over illegal campaign tactics he used in local political races.

In addition, both U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan (D) and the state Democratic Party are still holding on to cash donated to them by notorious fraudster Sam Bankman-Fried after he allegedly stole it from clients. Hassan and the NHDP were two of the top recipients of the more than $100 million in political campaign contributions federal prosecutors say Bankman-Fried made before the 2022 midterm elections.

Disgraced Dem Woodburn Stays Free For Now

Former Democratic leader Jeffrey Woodburn won’t have to start serving jail time yet, despite convictions for criminal mischief stemming from allegations of domestic violence.

The one-time state Senate Minority Leader from Coös County plans to appeal his criminal mischief sentence while preparing for a new domestic violence trial. In March, the New Hampshire Supreme Court ruled he did not get a fair trial the first time and reversed the domestic violence convictions but let the criminal mischief charges stand.

Last week, Coös Superior Court Judge Peter Bornstein gave Woodburn until July 14 to file his sentence appeal for the criminal mischief charges. The new domestic violence trial is set for next spring. 

Woodburn was originally sentenced to two years in jail with all but 60 days suspended. 

Woodburn allegedly bit his then-girlfriend during a brawl after a Christmas party in 2017. Days later, he allegedly kicked the door to the woman’s house when she refused to let him inside. Earlier that year, in August 2017, he reportedly kicked her clothes drying, breaking the appliance, according to court records.

Woodburn has been fighting the charges for years, becoming a recurring headline for state Democrats. Woodburn was formally charged in August 2018 but still ran for reelection in the face of calls for his resignation. He won the Democratic primary but lost in the general election that year. 

Woodburn’s appearance in the news again as he fights the convictions coincides with news stories of other New Hampshire Democrats linked to violence against women.

Former State Rep. Stacie Laughton (D-Nashua) ended up in jail for weeks after the 2022 midterm elections on charges of stalking a woman and her family. State Democrats, desperate to edge out the House GOP’s razor-thin majority, stayed silent about Laughton for nearly a month. Democratic leaders only called for Laughton’s resignation when it became clear they would not have the majority with or without the Nashua seat.

Democratic U.S. Sens. Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen burned political capital backing President Joe Biden’s judicial nomination of lawyer Michael Delaney. Sexual assault victims, including Chessy Prout, opposed Delaney. Prout was a 15-year-old sexual assault victim who sued the elite St. Paul’s private school in Concord. Delaney, who represented the school, used his expertise in court to strip the teen girl of her anonymity.

Delaney’s nomination was finally torpedoed in May after weeks of heavy criticism from victims and advocates, but not before Hassan and Shaheen endorsed him.