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Home » News » Crime

February 13. 2013 8:50PM

Prosecution witnesses' details picked at during former Epsom Rep. Soltani trial

CONCORD - Epsom attorney Tony Soltani, who is representing himself at his trial for felony reckless conduct and disorderly conduct, based on his behavior when he injected himself into a police pursuit, was criticized Wednesday for giving a television interview.

Assistant Hillsborough County Attorney Michael Valentine said Soltani violated the Rules of Professional Conduct for lawyers in an interview about the trial with WMUR Tuesday in which he talked about what he has lost as a result of the charges, who he blames, and how he is defending his good name.

Soltani, who was defeated in the 2012 Republican primary for the Epsom state representative seat he had held and let go as town counsel for Epsom, said he had to notifiy all his clients that he has been charged with a felony.

Valentine is prosecuting the case in Merrimack County Superior Court to avoid any possible conflict of interest for the Merrimack County Attorney's office.

Soltani, who is also a former Epsom Police officer, is on trial for charges stemming from his behavior April 6, 2012.

The incident began when Epsom Police Officer James Kear stopped a silver Mercedes in Epsom for a motor vehicle issue, and as Kear stood next to the Mercedes, the driver took off.

Soltani, driving a black Dodge Neon, had pulled over ahead of the Mercedes, and as Kear drove by, pointed out the window.

As Kear and the Mercedes sped around the Epsom Traffic Circle and then south on Route 28, Soltani followed.

The Mercedes turned onto a road by the Ronald Reagan Plaza and Kear followed it around the building. But as the Mercedes drove back out on Route 28, Soltani slipped his vehicle in behind it, leaving Kear in third position.

Kear testified that the vehicles were traveling at about 80 miles per hour, the Neon as well as the Mercedes and cruiser.

A Chichester man, Richard Davison, who was driving in the area with his wife and another passenger, testified Wednesday that he was passed on the Route 4 bridge by the vehicles, but didn't see them again until he was on two-lane Route 28, past the trailer park.

"The Neon was on the other side of the road (northbound lane)," he said, while the other two vehicles were in the southbound lane, as was he.

Soltani suggested the Dodge was trying to overtake the police car, but Davison said the Dodge was already directly behind the Mercedes, ahead of the cruiser.

Soltani floated another possibility. Did Davison know if there was enough distance between the Mercedes and the cruiser for the Dodge to get back in line? "It could have been the Dodge was executing this maneuver to avoid a collision," Soltani suggested.

Davison, a truck driver by profession, wasn't buying any of Soltani's suggestions for why the Neon was in the northbound lane, keeping pace with the Mercedes.

Trying another approach, Soltani sought to minimize the potential danger of the Dodge driving south at a high speed in the northbound lane. Isn't it true, he asked Davison, that it was only one vehicle that had pulled over to the side (to avoid the Dodge).

Davison was adamant. "Two or three," he insisted. "Two or three."

The final prosecution witness was Trooper Ronald Taylor. "I heard the radio call," Taylor said. He was at the Concord/Chichester line when he heard it and made his way to North Pembroke Road and Route 28, where he found Epsom, Chichester and Pembroke cruisers.

When he walked by the Epsom cruiser, where Soltani was seated, handcuffed, in the back seat, Taylor said: "I heard a loud voice." He couldn't make out what Soltani was saying until he opened the cruiser door.

What he heard was: "Hey trooper, hey trooper. I need you to call Bobby Quinn. I need you to call Bobby Quinn." Taylor said Soltani then asked him: "Do you know who I am?" Taylor said he declined to call Bobby, who he identified as State Police Col. Robert Quinn, and told Soltani that any issues he had with the Epsom Police Department, he needed to address with that department.

Taylor testified that Soltani then told him: "I won't hold that against you."

Following a pattern he has used throughout the trial, Soltani asked Taylor about his report on the incident, who requested it, had he read the Epsom reports, exactly when did he complete the final version of the report.

He questioned dates and whether it was written from notes and what kind of notes.

When Taylor said he ran Soltani's plates to get identifying information, Soltani appeared to be surprised and said: "You ran my license plate?. . .It's not in the report."

Taylor said that with computer terminals in the cruisers, it's a simple and routine task.

Soltani maintains the charges are payback for his filing a complaint about Kear earlier on the day of the chase, a day after Kear came to Soltani's residence looking for a runaway from another jurisdiction.

Soltani says Kear entered his home despite Soltani's mother denying him permission to enter. Kear says Soltani's 16-year-old gave him permission, which Soltani says he couldn't legally do because of his age.

Judge Richard McNamara cautioned jurors not to read or watch any reports about the trial, reminding them that their decision must be based on what they have learned in the courtroom.

The trial resumes at 9:30 Thursday morning and McNamara told jurors he expects the trial to be over Thursday.

dvincent@unionleader.com


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