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Judge denies change of venue request from man accused of murder-for-hire plot

A Pembroke man charged with trying to hire a hitman to kill his ex-girlfriend has been denied his request for a change of venue after his lawyer argued that the Monitor’s regular coverage of his case will make it impossible to select an impartial jury in Merrimack County.

Brian Schultz’s attorney, Melinda Siranian, raised concern in her motion not just with the volume of stories written about Schultz – seven since his arrest last May – but with the content, saying the Monitor printed information about his criminal history that likely won’t be allowed at trial.

That history includes being convicted in 1992 for distributing large volumes of child pornography, which according to court documents included children as young as 6. Schultz was also convicted in 2008 and again in October 2011 for failing to properly register as a sex offender.

He’s now accused of trying to recruit another inmate to help him kill his ex-girlfriend while incarcerated at the Boscawen jail between February and April 2012.

The plot also included running an elaborate extortion scheme after the woman was murdered, blackmailing men whom he claimed she was sleeping with as a prostitute, according to an affidavit in the case.

The woman has denied working as a prostitute. The man Schultz is accused of trying to hire as a hitman told the Monitor he never intended to go along with the plan and was working with jail officials the entire time.

In her request to hold the trial outside of Merrimack County, Siranian argued that media coverage of the case has been “inflammatory” and “not purely factual.”

While acknowledging that most of the Monitor’s stories were written last summer, not relatively close to when the trial is scheduled to begin, Siranian argued that is only because no new information has been released since then.

Assistant Merrimack County Attorney David Rotman, who is prosecuting the case, argued in his response that Siranian failed to prove that there is a pervasive community prejudice against Schultz.

“At best, what the defendant has shown is that the news media has covered his case,” Rotman wrote. “This is not enough.”

Merrimack County Superior Court Judge Richard McNamara has denied the motion but said Siranian can raise it again if a fair jury can’t be selected.

The case against Schultz had been scheduled to go to trial early next month but was recently rescheduled for mid-May after Siranian filed a motion saying she needed more time to review new information provided by the prosecutor.

She declined to elaborate yesterday on what that includes.

In a court filing, Rotman said that as part of the plot
to kill his ex-girlfriend, Schultz provided the other in-
mate with written plans including a map of where the woman lived, her physical description and where she could be found.

On the documents, Schultz referred to the woman as “the target,” according to court filings.

When a handwriting expert recently compared an example of Schultz’s handwriting with the documents and was unable to make a positive match, Rotman filed a motion asking a judge to order more samples from Schultz.

Siranian said yesterday that further examples are not necessary because she has agreed that the documents are in Schultz’s handwriting.

(Tricia L. Nadolny can be reached at 369-3306 or
tnadolny@cmonitor.com or on Twitter at @tricia_nadolny.)

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