Man convicted of running over wife at Bow gas station appeals to state’s highest court

  • Jason Alleyne, 29, of Concord enter Merrimack County Superior Court on Thursday May 17, 2018 at the beginning of his trial. He is accused of intentionally running over his wife with her car at the Circle K Irving gas station on Route 3A in Bow last year. GEOFF FORESTER

  • Jason Alleyne of Concord listens with his lawyer at Merrimack County Superior Court on Thursday May 17, 2018 at the beginning of his trial. He is accused of intentionally running over his wife with her car at the Circle K Irving gas station on Route 3A in Bow last year. GEOFF FORESTER

Monitor staff
Published: 2/14/2020 5:03:22 PM
Modified: 2/14/2020 5:03:09 PM

A Laconia man convicted in 2018 of purposefully running over his wife with a car at a Bow gas station after using methamphetamine is arguing that a judge’s decision to disallow expert testimony linking that drug’s use with violent behavior cost him a fair trial.

Jason Alleyne, 31, is asking the New Hampshire Supreme Court to weigh whether a Merrimack County Superior Court judge’s ruling to limit psychiatrist Dr. Stuart Gitlow’s testimony prevented jurors from having all of the information they needed to return a just verdict.

Although jurors acquitted Alleyne of an attempted murder charge stemming from the August 2017 incident, they convicted him of first- and second-degree assault, as well as seven misdemeanor charges: four counts of simple assault, two counts of criminal mischief and one count of criminal threatening. He is currently serving a six- to 12-year state prison sentence as a result of his convictions.

During oral arguments Wednesday before the state’s highest court, attorney Christopher Johnson, the chief appellate defender at the New Hampshire Public Defender’s Office, argued that Gitlow’s testimony about the effects of methamphetamine intoxication on a person’s state of mind was of value if jurors believed Alleyne was in fact intoxicated.

“There’s not overwhelming evidence that he had the purpose to cause serious bodily injury – that’s what this trial was fought on,” Johnson told the four justices. 

“So he had some other purpose when he ran over his wife?” Associate Justice Patrick Donovan asked Johnson.

“The defense theory is because of the mental confusion rooted in intoxication, he’s expressing anger, he’s sufficiently intoxicated that he’s lost the sense that hitting her with a car is different than hitting her with his hand,” Johnson responded.

He contended that because Alleyne was intoxicated he could not have “purposefully or knowingly” committed the charged crimes. That element is part of the felony assault statute and would have had to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt by prosecutors for the jury to return a conviction.

Assistant Attorney General Elizabeth Woodcock said Judge John Kissinger Jr., who presided over Alleyne’s trial, made the right decision when he ruled that testimony from Gitlow that methamphetamine use could cause violent behavior was inadmissible. She said the fear was that such testimony would have provided commentary about Alleyne’s intent and that could have “amounted to a diminished capacity or diminished responsibility defense,” a defense not recognized under New Hampshire law.

“To what degree do you allow an expert to comment on a defendant’s intent when he has never examined him or reviewed medical records?” Woodcock asked.

She said the defense could have asked that Gitlow sit in on the testimony of the victim, who spoke in meticulous detail about the events of that day and Alleyne’s behavior, and then have him draw conclusions based on her first-hand experience, but that was not done.

Prosecutors did not contend that Alleyne had taken methamphetamine that day but said there were too many variables to determine his exact level of intoxication. Woodcock identified those variables as regularity of use, as well as the defendant’s height, weight and overall health at the time.

After a roughly week-long trial in Concord, jurors found Alleyne guilty of verbally threatening to kill his wife before jumping into the driver’s seat of her Nissan Maxima and accelerating over her at the Circle K Irving gas station on Route 3A in Bow. The victim suffered a broken collarbone, broken vertebrae and a broken finger. Police said several witnesses lifted the vehicle off of her and that Alleyne fled the scene on foot, running across Interstate 93 near the Days Inn motel.

Police apprehended Alleyne on Donovan Street in Concord, where he told officers he’d just been swimming in a brook and hadn’t seen his wife in a while. But video surveillance footage taken from the gas station told a different story. Jurors went on a site visit to the gas station and also viewed video footage during the trial.

The New Hampshire Supreme Court took Wednesday’s oral arguments under advisement and will issue a written decision at a later date.

(AlyssaDandrea can be reached at 369-3319 or at adandrea@cmonitor.com.)


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