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BREAKING: Dale Collinge of Pembroke found guilty of manslaughter

Last modified: 5/29/2013 9:37:04 AM
A jury today found Dale Collinge guilty of manslaughter in the November 2011 shooting death of his girlfriend, Karen Boelzner.

After six hours of deliberations, the jury handed down a verdict that fell in severity between the second-degree murder conviction sought by prosecutors and the negligent homicide count Collinge’s attorneys argued was more appropriate.

Collinge, who admitted shooting Boelzner in their Pembroke apartment but said he grabbed the rifle after she inexplicably pointed it at him and pulled the trigger, could face up to 30 years in prison. He maintained throughout the trial at Merrimack County Superior Court that he didn’t know the gun was loaded.

The verdict was announced this morning in steps, starting with a not guilty finding on second-degree murder. At that, Collinge showed little reaction, and the family and friends gathered behind him continued to hold their breath for the jury’s decision on manslaughter.

When the jury announced the finding of guilty, Collinge still looked forward, but the tension in the group behind him released in cries and tears. As he walked out of the courtroom, Collinge turned to his family.

“It’s alright,” he said.

All of the jurors declined to comment yesterday. But the verdict indicates the group could have believed Collinge was conscious in the moment when he took the gun from Boelzner and pulled the trigger, but didn’t act with an extreme indifference to the value of human life, an element of second-degree murder.

Collinge’s lawyers have argued that he was so severely traumatized when Boelzner pointed the rifle at him that he was unaware of his actions in the moments after. They argued negligent homicide, which indicates a person failed to become aware of a substantial risk and acted in a way that a reasonable person wouldn’t, would have been the appropriate conviction

Donna Brown, one of Collinge’s attorneys, called the verdict disappointing but said there were several issues during the trial that could be appealed. Assistant Attorney General Peter Hinckley called the verdict “justice.”

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


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