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Raymond man seeks to upend 2010 sex assault conviction

Union Leader Correspondent

July 15. 2014 8:12PM

Robert Payette, 57, is seeking to upend his sex assault conviction returned by a jury in Rockingham County Superior Court. (JAMES A. KIMBLE/Union Leader Correspondent)

BRENTWOOD — A Raymond man serving 7 to 15 years for raping a woman outside his home in 2009 is seeking to upend his conviction.

Robert Payette, 57, is claiming he did not receive a fair trial in April 2010, but state prosecutors are now asking a federal judge to summarily reject his claims without a hearing, according to documents obtained by the New Hampshire Union Leader.

Payette, a former Raymond public works employee, was convicted by a Rockingham County jury of aggravated felonious sexual assault for raping a 41-year-old woman on the night of July 16, 2009.

On Monday, Payette’s lawyer, Tom Gleason, asked a federal judge in U.S. District Court to deny the state’s request.

“The state’s case was fundamentally weak,” Gleason said in court papers. “The issue at trial wasn’t whether there was sexual contact. The issue was whether the state could prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the sexual contact was (not consensual).”

Courts so far disagreed with Payette’s complaints that his constitutional rights were violated during his trial. Superior Court Chief Justice Tina Nadeau rejected Payette’s claims in March 2012 that he did not receive effective assistance from his first defense lawyer.

The state Supreme Court in April 2013 also disagreed with arguments that a judge should have declared a mistrial in 2010, partly based on an exchange between a Raymond detective and a witness that he accused of lying while on the witness stand.

Raymond police Det. Richard Labell confronted the victim’s then-boyfriend moments after he stepped off the witness stand and denied under oath previous statements that he made to police about the case.

The jury got to hear about the confrontation when the boyfriend and Labell testified. Jurors returned their guilty verdict after hearing from 13 witnesses during the three-day trial. Payette is eligible for parole in July 21, 2016, according to state records.

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