FARMINGTON - Six years ago today, in the early morning hours, Farmington Police made a grisly discovery at 979 Meaderboro Road.
When police arrived they found the bodies of two women under a tarp beneath outdoor stairs that led to a second-floor deck.
Christine Sullivan, 48, who split her time between southwest Florida and Farmington; and Jenna Pellegrini, 32, of Barrington, both died of multiple stab wounds, according to a coroner's report, with Sullivan also sustaining at least one blunt force trauma to the head.
The owner of the house, Dean Smoronk, a convicted drug trafficker, made the 911 call that drew police, who searched the premises and found the two women murdered.
It was later determined that the wom
|Timothy Verrill smiles at one of his defense attorneys during the October 2019 trial in Strafford Superior Court in Dover|
en died two days earlier, on Jan. 27, 2017, a Friday.
Before Smoronk called police he reviewed surveillance footage from his home security system, which is now part of voluminous evidence files that numbers in the tens of thousands of listed items.
Timothy Verrill, 39, formerly of Dover, was arrested in the double murders on Feb. 6, 2017, in Lawrence, Mass. Verrill, who is listed as 6-2 and 280 pounds, has now been incarcerated for almost five years. He is now awaiting his second trial after his first trial in October 2019 ended with the defense calling for a mistrial, which was granted by Strafford Superior Court Judge Steven Houran.
The defense called for the mistrial after voluminous amounts of evidence, some that could have been deemed exculpatory, were found by investigators of the New Hampshire State Police Major Crimes Unit.
Verrill's defense attorneys then sought to have the case dismissed with prejudice due to double jeopardy and due process, but Howard and the New Hampshire Supreme Court later agreed that the MCU's shoddy handling of evidence did not reach to the level of egregiousness that would force a dismissal of the charges and the release of Verrill.
(Virginia State Police)
In September state Supreme Court justices sent the case back to Superior Court Judge Mark E. Howard for a hearing to determine whether sanctions short of dismissing the charges should be ordered.
"Although we affirm the trial court's decision not to impose the harshest penalties - the dismissal of the defendant's pending charges - we do not condone the state's conduct," wrote Senior Associate Justice Gary Hicks in the high court ruling.
The investigation involved numerous witnesses at the house around the time of the murders or people believed to have been involved in drug operation headed by Smoronk and Sullivan, the ruling stated.
Verrill was alleged to have worked for Smoronk and Sullivan in that operation, according to prosecutors at the 2019 trial, which was more than half over when the mistrial was declared.
Smoronk has never been mentioned as a suspect by prosecutors, however defense attorneys sought to portray him and several others as alternative suspects.
Smoronk, who was listed as both a prosecution and defense witness in the 2019 trial, pleaded guilty to trafficking meth in September 2019 and was sentenced to 42 months by the U.S. District Court for the state of New Hampshire.
He was released from a Residential Re-entry Management center in Philadelphia around Jan. 9, 2021.
Verrill remains held at the Carroll County House of Corrections. He faces life in prison without parole if found guilty. He has been incarcerated since Feb. 6, 2017, when he was arrested as a fugitive from justice.
While Verrill is yet to be found guilty, that can't be said for the state's vaunted Major Crimes Unit.
|State Police including a K9 unit prepare to join other investigators inside the residence belonging to Dean Smoronk at 979 Meaderboro Road in Farmington during a second search of the premises six months after the killings. (Rochester Voice file photo)|
"The (Major Crimes Unit) has no designated procedures for compiling a casebook and offers no formal training on the subject," the High Court ruling stated. "Additionally, the MCU has no centralized records management system. The lead MCU investigator assigned to this case used a spreadsheet to track investigator assignments and testified that if he inadvertently excluded an investigative task from his spreadsheet, he would have no indicator or reminder to follow-up on the task's completion. In other words, a failure to record an item onto the spreadsheet would likely result in a failure to collect the item."
Prosecutors said at trial that Verrill thought one of the women was a police informant. Sullivan had been involved with Dean Smoronk and defense attorneys proffered the theory that the murders were connected to an attempted expansion of the drug business.
Some of the evidence that the State Police initially did not turn over to prosecutors included the discovery involving the alleged drug trafficking, which was handled separately from the murder investigation, according to the Supreme Court order.
The date for a status hearing to determine what remedies might be considered in moving ahead to a second trial was not immediately available.
During the first trial family members of the two victims often showed up in court to look for justice and closure, which never came to fruition.
Whether they return a second time is yet to be seen.