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Quebec refuses to return man for fourth murder trial

By PAT GROSSMITH
New Hampshire Union Leader

August 08. 2013 9:25PM




The Quebec Court of Appeals in Montreal has rejected the U.S. government's request that accused murderer Anthony Barnaby be returned to New Hampshire to stand trial for the fourth time on two counts of first-degree murder.

However, the court did OK the return of Barnaby's codefendant, David Caplin, who was never tried in the 1988 double homicide of Brenda Warner, 32, and Charlene Ranstrom, 48, of Nashua, according to a July 31 court ruling.

"We just want to say we are very relieved and very grateful to the Canadian justice system. We are grateful they took special interest in this case and did a very careful review and determined it would have been oppressive to try Mr. Barnaby a fourth time," said defense lawyer Mark Sisti of Chichester.

Sisti said the order was issued in French, and he is awaiting an English translation of it.

Senior Assistant Attorney General Janice Rundles said she could not comment because she officially has not been informed of the decision. The extradition case was handled through the U.S. Attorney's Office in Washington, D.C., and she said she has yet to receive a copy of the ruling.

According to SunNewsNetwork.ca, the court ruled there was "no ground for interfering" in Caplin's extradition. However, it said since DNA evidence did not link Barnaby to the crime scene, "there is simply no precedent for submitting an accused to the stress and tribulations of a fourth trial on the same charges."

Sisti said that the extradition process in Canada differs from the United States' process. About a year ago, the defense had to submit a letter to a court administrative panel outlining the evidence in the case, explaining how may trials had been held and their outcomes. That included the polling of all three jury panels which, he said, voted 9-3 to convict in the first trial; 7-5 to acquit at the second trial; and 7-5 to convict in the third trial.

The letter also noted that no one in the history of New Hampshire had ever been tried for the fourth time on a murder charge. To do that, Sisti said, would be "unprecedented" and "oppressive."

Sisti said the administrative panel ruled against Barnaby, saying he should be extradited, but the Quebec Court of Appeals overturned the decision.

Sisti said that Barnaby, who is now free, spent a total of five years in prison in pre-trial confinement for a crime he never committed.

Judge Linda Dalianis, now chief justice of the state Supreme Court, was the presiding judge at the trials more than two decades ago. Sisti said she allowed the attorneys to sit down with the jurors afterward and talk to them about the outcome of the trials. In each case, he said, the jurors said there would never be a conviction because of the lack of evidence.

"It's too ridiculous," Sisti said of the state seeking to try Barnaby for the fourth time. "There's no new evidence, nothing of any quality."

He said the crime scene was an extremely bloody one, but not a drop of blood was found on Barnaby or his clothing, and no evidence, not even a single hair, linking him to the crime was found at the scene. Sisti said the defense had an FBI expert testify about a hair found there and the agent said it most likely belonged to someone who was Caucasian.

Barnaby is a Micmac Indian. While Caplin has Micmac blood — the two men grew up on the Restigouche Indian Reservation in Quebec — he has blond hair, according to Sisti.

Investigators, in bringing new first-degree murder charges against both Barnaby and Caplin, said DNA testing tied hair found at the scene to Caplin.

Originally, murder charges against Caplin were dropped after evidence gathered against him was suppressed at trial, a ruling later upheld by the state Supreme Court.

At the time of the murders, Barnaby lived downstairs from Ranstrom and Warner at 7 Mason St., Nashua.

There were several reports of Barnaby yelling obscenities and making rude comments to the lesbian couple over a three-month period before their deaths, according to court records. Police said Barnaby threatened to kill them the day before their brutal deaths.

A few days before the women died, Caplin showed up at Barnaby's apartment. Sisti said Caplin's nickname was "Davey Mental."

"Caplin was never, never Barnaby's friend," Sisti said. "Nobody on the reservation could trust him."

On Oct. 3, 1988, the women's bloodied and beaten bodies were found by Ranstrom's son. They had been bound and repeatedly stabbed.

Police immediately questioned Barnaby, who, according to court records, admitted he did not like the women. Investigators said the motive for the murders was that a friend of Barnaby's and Caplin's was arrested for tapping into the women's cable and stealing the service.

Barnaby allegedly admitted he tied up the women with towels and then repeatedly stabbed one of them, while Caplin hit the other with a board and then stabbed her repeatedly. Barnaby later recanted.

Sisti said Barnaby was released from prison and is living in the Montreal area.

Caplin was about to be released from the New Carlisle Detention Center in Quebec, where he was serving a sentence on unrelated burglary and breaking and entering charges, when the new first-degree murder charges were brought. He is still being detained, pending his return to the Granite State.

pgrossmith@unionleader.com


Crime, law and justice Courts Nashua


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