Defense experts say detective's arrest could impact Tasker prosecution
A Hampton detective charged with drunken driving may cause unexpected legal challenges for the prosecution of a former state lawmaker, legal experts say.
Prosecutors are only at the beginning stages in their case against Kyle Tasker, the ex-state representative from Nottingham charged with drug possession and allegedly trying to meet a 14-year-old girl for sex.
But defense experts said that Tasker’s attorney will likely delve into the Oct. 10 arrest of Hampton police detective Christopher Gilroy for drunken driving.
“There are various arguments to make it relevant,” said Nashua defense lawyer Charles Keefe, who is not associated with either case.
Police began investigating Tasker in January because he was allegedly sending sexually explicit messages to a 14-year-old girl on Facebook.
Gilroy, a member of the state’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, posed as the girl by taking over her Facebook account on Jan. 26, according to a police affidavit. Tasker allegedly set up a meeting for sex after engaging in sexually explicit chats, and was arrested while heading to a supposed meeting with the girl.
Tasker’s arrest also prompted investigators to obtain a search warrant for his home at 87 Smoke St. in Nottingham, where a trove of drugs including MDMA, psychedelic mushrooms, buprenorphine and hash oil were found.
Keefe, a former prosecutor with the Attorney General’s Office, said he would expect Tasker’s legal team to inquire about Gilroy’s arrest by filing a motion in court. Tasker’s defense attorney could then attempt to use Gilroy’s legal troubles at trial, according to Keefe.
“First and foremost, it goes to the detective’s credibility,” he said of Gilroy’s arrest. “If he’s being offered as a witness and his certification as a police officer is in jeopardy, then that may be relevant.”
There is still no certainty that Gilroy will be called as a state witness if Tasker’s case goes to trial. And the defense would need approval from a judge to question Gilroy about his arrest, Keefe said.
Deputy County Attorney Patricia LaFrance, who is prosecuting Tasker, said she could not comment about Gilroy’s arrest or its potential impact on the Tasker case.
“I can’t comment because it just happened,” she said. “There has to be an internal investigation.”
Few details are known about Gilroy’s arrest. State police said in a statement that a preliminary investigation showed that Gilroy was driving northbound on Interstate 95 when he attempted to take the Exit 2 off-ramp. He failed to negotiate the off-ramp, drove over a cement median and struck the Exit 2 off-ramp sign, state police said.
Crossing a cement median, Gilroy drove across the off-ramp, struck a guardrail then continued north before hitting the guardrail a second time, according to troopers. Gilroy was arrested at the scene. State police haven’t disclosed whether Gilroy made any statements to investigators.
Defense lawyer Mark Stevens, who specializes in DWI cases, said that Gilroy’s actions on the night of his arrest could be problematic if he was found to be dishonest in any way.
“It’s definitely something he could be impeached with on cross-examination by a defense lawyer,” Stevens said. “Also, it won’t look terribly good for him if the state calls him as a witness, and he is under administrative leave or suspension while his own case is getting investigated.”
Defense lawyer Andrew Cotrupi of Hampton, who also has no ties to the cases, said generally that defense lawyers will try to make an issue of an arrest of a law enforcement official, but it will not have that much impact.
“It will be a lot of smoke with no fire, and that’s the truth of it,” he said. “It will be one of these things that law enforcement will be very anxious about. But if it’s a superficial DWI, then there’s nothing that impacts credibility or honesty.”
Cotrupi acknowledged that could change if a person made false statements to police, but he was skeptical that would be the case with Gilroy. “This detective has a very strong reputation so I would be surprised if those are the facts,” Cotrupi said.