CLAREMONT — The Elm Street man accused of destroying evidence related to the suspected arson of his neighbor’s motorcycle has pleaded guilty, according to court records.

Alan Welch, 35, of 42 Elm St., was indicted over the summer on one count of falsifying physical evidence after he erased video surveillance that may have connected him to the crime, according to Claremont Police Capt. Stephen Lee’s report.

Welch pleaded guilty last week in Sullivan Superior Court to one count of obstructing government administration, and he has a sentencing hearing scheduled for March, according to court records.

Police and firefighters responded to a report of a structure fire at an apartment house on West Terrace Street on the night of July 13, according to Lee’s report. Instead of a building fire, police officer Shalyn Spencer found a Kawasaki motorcycle parked behind the building that was fully engulfed in flames, Lee wrote.

Police learned that the motorcycle belonged to Jason Carrier, who lived in an apartment with his girlfriend, Christine Paquette, Lee wrote. The couple had left the property a few days before the motorcycle fire because a kitchen fire in their apartment had forced them to leave, according to Lee.

Carrier and Paquette have a history with Welch and his wife, according to Lee’s report.

Fire investigators found large punctures in the motorcycle’s gas tank, and surmised someone had used a sharp object to punch the holes, lighting the gasoline to start the fire, Lee wrote.

Welch, who Lee noted was wearing a knife on his belt when he talked to police, offered to let officers view his video taken by his security surveillance cameras, Lee wrote.

Welch told police that he did not know how to get the video off his system, or how to make a copy to give to officers. Lee wrote that the video showed the West Terrace building from Welch’s property. Welch can be seen that night letting his dogs out, and the children in the house can be seen going in and out. In the moments before the fire reportedly started, Welch was seen stepping off the porch.

As the officers watched this section of the video, Welch started skipping the video ahead by 20-second intervals, and he started playing the video again in real time once he was seen back on the porch and calling 911 about the fire, Lee wrote.

Police went back to Welch the next day to talk to him about the video. At that time he told officers the system had “fritzed” and that all the data and video was lost, Lee wrote. Welch refused to let police have the DVR players to attempt to retrieve the video, according to Lee.

Police obtained a search warrant to take several large knives and the DVRs and other video surveillance equipment in the house. When they got there, they found that the equipment had been removed.

“It’s gone,” Welch said before going to meet with an attorney, Lee wrote.

Police took the knives, according to Lee.

Thursday, February 27, 2020
Wednesday, February 26, 2020