After getting four life sentences for sexually assaulting young girl, man asks if death penalty is an option
BRENTWOOD – A judge sentenced a Raymond man on Friday to four consecutive life sentences for sexually assaulting a young girl, using a state law that allows for a punishment equivalent to a first-degree murder conviction.
Patrick Eschenbrenner, 51, asked the judge whether he could be put to death instead of the life sentence.
"I wonder whether or not lethal injection was an option," Eschenbrenner said to Judge N. William Delker just before the judge handed down the consecutive prison terms.
A Rockingham County jury convicted Eschenbrenner in December of seven counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault and a single account of witness tampering
The abuse happened on a regular basis between 2002 and 2007, beginning when the girl was age seven.
At the time, Eschenbrenner was caring for the victim's mother, who was dying of cancer, according to court testimony.
The verdict marked Eschenbrenner's third conviction of aggravated felonious sexual assault, making him eligible for a potential life sentence under New Hampshire law.
Assistant County Attorney Jerome Blanchard argued that Eschenbrenner's two sexual assault convictions from a 1998 case made him eligible for life in prison without parole.
"I don't know if I have ever met a more narcissistic sex offender," Blanchard said.
Blanchard said that Eschenbrenner's behavior has proven that he would prey equally on girls, boys or adult women.
Delker heard sworn testimony from a 31-year-old man who testified that he was sexually abused by Eschenbrenner when he was between five and six years old.
A woman also testified in graphic detail that Eschenbrenner sexually abused her and forced her into sexual acts with other men.
"He had sexual desires that went beyond what I would consider normal," the woman testified.
Eschenbrenner was never charged in either of those cases.
Delker told Eschenbrenner that the death penalty was not an option in his case, but that he would never walk free again from the walls of the state prison.
"You are not just a pedophile. You are a monster beyond all human comprehension," Delker said.
The judge also chastised Eschenbrenner for attempting suicide in April just as jury selection was underway for his trial.
"The fact that you tried to take your own life before you were brought to justice … you tried to avoid the consequences for your behavior," he said.
Defense lawyer Brett Newkirk said his client instructed him not to make a legal argument for the hearing.
The latest case did not come to light until late 2011 when Eschenbrenner was briefly freed on bail because a superior court judge had upended his conviction in the prior case. The girl, now a teenager, remained silent about the abuse until she had seen Eschenbrenner while he was free on bail. She reported the sexual abuse to a family member.
The state Supreme Court ultimately upheld Eschenbrenner's conviction in the 1998 case and returned him to state prison to serve a 20 to 40 year prison sentence.
In addition to the four consecutive life sentences, Eschenbrenner received on Friday concurrent life sentences on the remaining sexual assault charges. He was also sentenced three to six years in prison for witness tampering.
Blanchard said he intentionally did not ask Eschenbrenner to undergo the state's Sexual Offender Program, which is usually a court-ordered requirement for the majority of defendants convicted of aggravated felonious sexual assault.
"I don't think we should waste our resources on him," Blanchard said.