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Convicted Manchester killer maintains people lied at his murder trial

MANCHESTER — Convicted murderer Christopher M. Beltran, serving a 100-year prison term for the 2003 shotgun slayings of Amy Knott and Christopher Squeglia, claimed Wednesday he was denied his right to testify at his trial, which prevented physical evidence and witnesses from being introduced.

Beltran, 34, told Hillsborough County Superior Court Judge Kenneth C. Brown even though he discussed his wish to testify multiple times with his court-appointed defense attorneys Cathy Green and Philip Utter, he was unaware he had an absolute right to do so. The 2004 trial ended without his being called to the stand.

Under questioning by his attorney Emily F. McLaughlin, Beltran said his testimony would have disproved “lies” being told by his former girlfriend and other witnesses and would support his claim that he was not the shooter.

Brown said he would issue a ruling on Beltran’s habeas corpus petition within 30 days.

Beltran has appealed his convictions multiple times since they were upheld by the state Supreme Court in 2006. The issue of whether he was denied his right to testify in his defense is the sole issue remaining before the courts.

Knott and Squeglia, both 35, were gunned down at a Calef Road parking lot on April 17, 2003. The state said Beltran came from California to take over the drug trade and killed Squeglia to eliminate a competitor and build is reputation.