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Former St. Paul's School student Owen Labrie in Merrimack County Superior Court in Concord in 2015. (FILE/AP)

Owen Labrie's request for new trial denied


CONCORD — A Superior Court judge on Wednesday denied Owen Labrie’s bid for a new trial, calling his original legal team “highly experienced and prepared.”

Labrie’s trial and conviction got national media exposure over his assault of a 15-year-old female freshman while he was a senior and both were students at St. Paul’s School in 2014.

Labrie’s new legal team had argued his lawyers gave him ineffective counsel during the first trial, which ended with a guilty verdict for a felony use of a computer and four misdemeanors — three for sexual assault and one endangering the welfare of a child.

Attorney Robin Melone represented Labrie in this motion and argued that Boston attorneys, J.W. Carney Jr. and Sam Zaganjori, made several errors in defending him.

“The court finds and rules the defendant’s trial team was highly experienced and prepared defense attorneys who, overall, made reasonable strategic and tactical decisions throughout the trial,” wrote Merrimack County Superior Court Judge Larry Smukler.

“The defendant has failed to sustain his burden of showing that his trial counsels’ performance was constitutionally ineffective.”

Prosecutors said Labrie was involved in a game of sexual conquest known as the “Senior Salute” at the prestigious Concord prep school. He was acquitted of aggravated felonious sexual assault in the matter.

Jaye Rancourt, the local counsel to Labrie’s defense team during the trial, testified that noted Boston lawyers Carney and Zaganjori did not consult with her about state statutes and procedures that they would not have been familiar with in trying a case in New Hampshire.

The motion maintained the trial lawyers also should have challenged the computer prohibition charge as constitutionally flawed under the First Amendment, Commerce Clause and on due process.

Smukler disagreed, adding these lawyers on other issues should not be “second-guessed with the benefit of hindsight.”

Carney testified in this matter that he refrained from trying to impeach the victim, Chessy Prout, because he found her to be “intelligent, dramatic, well-prepared and sympathetic.”

Earlier this week, Prout spoke with Rep. Annie Kuster, D-NH, to campaign for better legal protections for victims of sexual assault.

Labrie’s legal team has appealed his 2015 convictions to the state Supreme Court.

klandrigan@unionleader.com