Manchester police officer testifies in his own defense at domestic assault trial
By JAMES A. KIMBLE Union Leader Correspondent
Manchester police Officer Nathan Linstad testified in his own defense during his simple assault trial on Wednesday in Rockingham County Superior Court. He is accused of body slamming his wife at their Raymond home on Sept. 5. (JAMES A. KIMBLE PHOTO)
BRENTWOOD — Manchester police Officer Nathan Linstad testified in his own defense on Wednesday, telling jurors that he never assaulted his wife or body slammed her to the ground during an argument at their Raymond home.
Linstad, 35, took the witness stand at the close of his trial on a misdemeanor simple assault charge late Wednesday afternoon in Rockingham County Superior Court.
His testimony capped a two-day trial where jurors also heard from the deputy chief medical examiner, who concluded that large purple bruises on Melinda Linstad’s right arm and upper right thigh was consistent with being slammed to a hard, flat surface like a floor.
That testimony ran counter to the defense’s theory that Melinda Linstad injured herself after she reported to Raymond police that she was assaulted by her husband.
“She would have had to been elevated off the floor and not break her fall and land on her right arm and leg,” Dr. Jennie Duval testified while being cross-examined.
An Elliot Health Systems doctor, Gus Emmick, was called as a defense witness to refute those findings.
Nathan Linstad testified his wife vowed revenge once she learned that he wanted out of the marriage, and told him, “You ruined my life so I am going to ruin yours.”
The couple’s argument on the morning of Sept. 5 began when Melinda Linstad confronted her husband about phone numbers of two women he had been communicating with, according to court testimony.
Melinda Linstad asked for her husband’s phone and then began dialing the phone numbers of the two women.
He told his wife not the call the numbers, explaining one was the wife of a Portsmouth police officer that he organized charity work with.
“She hung up the phone. She extended her left hand and I took phone out of it,” Linstad testified. “She flopped down on the ground.”
Melinda Linstad then called out to their 5-year-old son and said, “Did you see Daddy throw Mommy to the ground?’ according to Nathan Linstad.
During his testimony, Linstad, broke down and clutched a tissue while testifying how his wife was cold and demanding. He described her as someone who overspent their money while he worked every overtime shift he could get. He told jurors how when he was given a service medal at work for saving a person’s life in 2011, “She told me I was an idiot.”
“Why?” asked defense lawyer Eric Wilson.
“For helping the people of Manchester,” Linstad testified.
Linstad contacted his supervisor, Manchester police Sgt. Scott Fuller, to report that his marriage was falling apart moments after the alleged assault, according to court testimony.
Fuller testified that he immediately notified his supervisors about his conversation with Linstad that day.
But Linstad never told Fuller or the Raymond police Detective Richard Labell, the lead investigator in the assault case, about his wife’s vow to ruin him, Assistant County Attorney Patricia Conway argued.
Conway questioned Linstad about having sex with one of the women in late August.
Linstad acknowledged during his testimony that he had sex with the woman and that he deceived his wife for nearly four years by communicating and exchanging photos, e-mails and text messages with other women on his work phone.
“So it was OK you were talking to all your girlfriends on your work phone?”