Judge orders witness in kidnapping trial to jail until he testifies
BRENTWOOD - A witness was jailed indefinitely by a judge after he refused to testify at the trial of Luis Carvalho, who is charged with kidnapping a 20-year-old Windham woman during a home invasion in April 2012.
Judge Marguerite Wageling called Matthew Nugent, of Billerica, Mass., to the witness stand on Wednesday and quizzed him about his refusal to testify before finding him in contempt of court.
Carvalho's trial in Rockingham County Superior Court has been delayed until Nugent takes the witness stand, according to Wageling.
"I will wait this out as long as you wait this out," Wageling told Nugent, before he was led out of the courtroom by a deputy sheriff.
A jury that was selected Monday will stay on the case, but Wageling did not rule out selecting another one next month if Nugent does not have a change of heart within the next few days.
On Monday, Wageling ordered Nugent to testify for the state under an immunity agreement that would have shielded him from any self-incriminating comments. Nugent had wanted to invoke his Fifth Amendment right to not incriminate himself, but Wageling found he did not have the legal grounds to do so. Prosecutors attempted to interview Nugent prior to his expected testimony, but were told by his lawyer, Don Blaszka, that Nugent would still refuse to answer any questions on the witness stand.
Assistant County Attorney Patricia Conway argued on Wednesday that Nugent was a material witness for the state because he owned the shotgun found in the truck used by the suspects. Sometime after the home invasion, Nugent reported to local and federal law enforcement that firearms he owned were stolen, according to Conway.
Phone records obtained by New Hampshire investigators also show that Nugent and Carvalho had been in contact on the day and night of the home invasion, according to Conway. Under questioning from county prosecutors, Nugent testified Monday that he knew Carvalho, but was not in Windham on the night of the home invasion.
Prosecutors believe three suspects attacked Samantha Gervais at her home, but only Carvalho was caught. Conway said that the state's case relies largely on circumstantial evidence.
Public defenders for Carvalho argued that their client had a right to a speedy trial and suggested that Nugent was not a critical witness for county prosecutors. Public defender Devens Hamlen also suggested that Carvalho should be eligible for lower bail given the delay. Wageling disagreed.
Carvalho has been in county jail since his arrest on the night of the home invasion.