LACONIA — Saying the state failed to prove that an Alton police officer’s exposure to fentanyl constituted a threat of death or serious bodily injury, a Belknap County Superior Court judge has set aside a jury’s verdict.
On Sept. 13 a jury found Eric Weil, 50, of Alton, guilty of one count of reckless conduct with a deadly weapon — fentanyl — a Class B felony punishable by between 3.5 to 7 years in prison, for blowing the powerful opiate in the direction of Alton police officer Jamie Fellows on Aug. 24, 2017.
Weil had called Alton police to come to his Gilman’s Corner Road residence to remove a guest whom he said had been using drugs.
According to court documents, when Fellows arrived Weil was upset and holding a folded piece of paper containing an unknown substance that he tried multiple times to hand to Fellows. Fellows instructed Weil to put the paper on the ground, but after the guest was arrested, Weil blew the substance “either off him or off of the paper into the air” near Fellows’ face.
The substance was later identified as fentanyl.
While Fellows was treated for the exposure by EMTs, he was not taken to Huggins Hospital, a point that Judge James D. O’Neill noted in his Nov. 1 order.
“Upon review, the court finds the jury’s verdict in this case was conclusively against the weight of the evidence,” said O’Neill, adding that Fellows’ own testimony indicated that his exposure to the fentanyl “caused slight, temporary harm.”
The state, O’Neill continued, “offered no direct admissible/competent evidence that fentanyl could produce death or serious bodily injury in the quantity that was inhaled or from inhalation generally and presented only circumstantial evidence that any contact with fentanyl could produce injury.”