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Plea deal for 'the Squad' gang member falls apart

By MARK HAYWARD
New Hampshire Union Leader

January 10. 2018 9:08PM

Charles Morrison 



MANCHESTER — A plea bargain that would have put a suspected member of the Manchester street gang “the Squad” in state prison for at least nine years collapsed on Wednesday.

The deal fell apart after the lawyer for Charles Morrison, 54, said the defendant refuses to plead guilty to a charge related to the January 2016 face-cutting of a woman who was a key prosecution witness against the Squad and recently died of a drug overdose.

The move means that Morrison could conceivably face an eventual trial in Hillsborough County Superior Court-North on charges of drug dealing, assault and human trafficking. Morrison has been identified in court papers as a member of the Squad, a gang that used intimidation, assault and murder in an attempt to seize control of drug sales and prostitution in Manchester in 2015 and 2016.

Most members, including alleged leader Brandon Griffin, are facing felony charges related to the gang activity.

In November, Morrison pleaded guilty to charges that he cut the face of another woman in May 2016 and that he sold crack-cocaine in June 2016. The deal also called for him to plead guilty to an unindicted charge involving the face-cutting of Tori Caron. Morrison would spend 9 to 18 years in state prison as part of the plea-bargain.

But Caron, the sometimes girlfriend of Griffin, died of a suspected drug overdose at her parent’s home last month. Morrison did not know about Caron’s death until Jan. 2, his lawyer wrote in court filings.

“In summary, Mr. Morrison still seeks to withdraw his pleas and will not enter a plea on the T.C. case,” reads papers filed by his lawyer, Roger Chadwick. Chadwick also said he could not continue as Morrison’s lawyer because he may have to testify about his client’s mental state and how he viewed the strength of the state’s involving the assault on Caron.

“The evolving strength of the state’s case with T.C. as the victim was a major factor in the decision to enter pleas to all three cases and to agree to what amounts to a 9-18 years stand committed sentence,” Chadwick wrote.

Last week, Superior Court Judge Gillian Abramson rejected Morrison’s three-page, handwritten request for a new lawyer. In the request, he claimed that Chadwick was ineffective.

Meanwhile, a judge scheduled a pre-trial hearing for next Tuesday in Griffin’s upcoming trial on four felony drug charges. At issue is how much evidence a jury will be able to hear about the Squad.

mhayward@unionleader.com


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