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Man charged in Manchester beating death has been in prison since August

New Hampshire Union Leader

January 30. 2017 7:50PM
Jonathan Bijeol was charged at Manchester District Court with second-degree murder in the death of Richard Carlson. Carlson's body was found at Prout Park early the morning of Aug. 28. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

MANCHESTER — A man charged in the beating death of a man in a city park last summer was arrested two days after the fatal attack for an unrelated assault and has been behind bars ever since, according to court documents.

Jonathan Bijeol, 34, who was arraigned Monday in 9th Circuit Court-District Division on a charge of second-degree murder, allegedly hit a woman in the head twice on Aug. 25. The badly beaten body of Richard Carlson, 61, was found Aug. 28 near the baseball bleachers in Prout Park.

Court documents state that Bijeol has been in jail since Aug. 30, and has remained at the New Hampshire State Prison for Men in Concord on a parole violation.

“They’ve had their eyes on the guy,” Carlson’s nephew, Eric Rockwood, said Monday outside the courtroom. “It just so happens he got picked up for something similar.”

Bijeol confirmed he understood the murder charge against him during a brief hearing Monday. Because the charge is a felony, Bijeol could not enter a plea in circuit court; Judge William Lyons set a probable cause hearing for Feb. 8.

Relatives of Carlson who attended Bijeol’s arraignment said they were relieved to see somebody charged in the death, but are still seeking additional details.

“There was quite a bit of time that went by where we weren’t quite sure whether something was going to happen or not,” said Rockwood, who spoke on behalf of the family after the arraignment.

“The guy had no reason to go after my uncle. My uncle was a good guy,” Rockwood said. “He didn’t have anything that he could have gotten. There was no reason. He didn’t have money. He didn’t have drugs.”

Rockwood was among a group of about 15 relatives who filed in to the gallery just before court officers escorted Bijeol in for the arraignment. Rockwood said he appreciated the details investigators were able to share over the past few months, but the family is still waiting to hear a motive in his uncle’s killing.

“It would be nice to know why,” Rockwood said.

The state Attorney General’s Office ruled Carlson’s death a homicide two days after his body was found. But investigators did not disclose a cause of death or details about his injuries until a news release announcing Bijeol’s arrest Friday stated that Carlson was struck repeatedly in the head, face, neck and upper torso.

Rockwood said investigators told him they had been investigating Bijeol for a while before charging him in Carlson’s death.

Bijeol was indicted in November on a charge of assault with a deadly weapon in connection with the Aug. 25 attack on the woman, a charge he pleaded not guilty to in December — while still behind bars.

Peter Hinckley, a senior assistant attorney general, would not comment on what led investigators to Bijeol. The affidavit seeking an arrest warrant on the murder charge has been sealed.

Courts Crime Manchester

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