NORTH HAVERHILL — A Grafton man accused of shooting a fellow driver during a road rage incident last month on Route 4 says in court documents that he is the real victim and an eyewitness will back his claim.
Joseph Brown, 38, has been held without bail since his arrest April 29 at the scene of the shooting. He is charged with two counts of first-degree assault for the shooting of Jason Marandos, 46.
Brown was arraigned April 30 in Grafton County Superior Court, where he told Judge Lawrence MacLeod that he intends to argue self-defense at trial, which was tentatively scheduled for some time in September.
On May 23, Penny Dean, Brown’s attorney, filed a motion asking MacLeod – without holding a hearing – to allow Brown to be released pretrial either on $20,000 personal-recognizance bond or $20,000 cash or corporate-surety bail.
While MacLeod denied the motion a day later on the grounds that a hearing was needed, the underlying motion introduced into the court record a counter narrative for what transpired April 29.
The defense’s version relies on an interview conducted May 4 by a private investigator with Joseph D’Amboise.
According to his account, on the afternoon of April 29 D’Amboise was doing yardwork at his home on Main Street (Route 4) in Grafton when, during a break, “I heard a noise of some sort that was coming from Route 4 to the east of my home.”
Shortly thereafter, D’Amboise said he observed two westbound vehicles come into view, both driving “less than 5 mph.” The first vehicle was silver, said D’Amboise, while the second was gray.
New Hampshire State Police in a statement April 29 said Brown had been operating a 2011 Ford Flex while Marandos was behind the wheel of a 2011 Ford Escape. Color photos of the vehicles in the release show that the Flex was silver and that the Escape was gray and that, as D’Amboise later said, the Flex was ahead of the Escape.
D’Amboise added that he saw as the gray vehicle “closed the distance between them and nudged the silver vehicle in the rear in a manner that seemed to me to be belligerent and was apparently a continuation of what I heard a few moments earlier.”
His first thought, D’Amboise continued, was that “this was some kind of slow motion road rage between the two vehicles,” adding that as the vehicles moved out of his view, he expected the drivers to pull over and argue with each other.
“Within seconds,” however, D’Amboise said he “heard a gunshot.” So as to see above his forsythia bushes, he walked up to a room over his garage, looked out onto Route 4 and saw “a heavyset man learning on the hood of the gray vehicle” whom he assumed had been the victim of the shooting.
D’Amboise called 911 to report what happened and requested both a police cruiser and an ambulance. The cruiser arrived first and D’Amboise watched as “a slightly built man” was handcuffed by an officer and placed into the police car.
That man, Dean wrote in Brown’s bail motion, was her client.
Brown, said Dean, “Claims that Mr. Marandos attacked Mr. Brown and that Mr. Brown was forced to shoot in self defense of himself and his children,” three minors, all of whom had been in Brown’s vehicle during the altercation with Marandos.
Dean, citing D’Amboise’s attached testimony, said Brown recalled being “repeatedly rammed from the rear and when Mr. Brown stopped to assess the damage to his vehicle he was blitz attacked by Mr. Marandos.”
The state, in Brown’s arrest affidavit and at his arraignment, allege Brown was driving erratically behind Marandos, whose wife and son were with him, and that at some point Brown passed the Marandos’ vehicle, and, by stopping short, caused it to hit the rear of his SUV.
Public defender Jamie Brooks, who represented Brown at his arraignment, said that account was suspect and would be disputed.
At trial, Dean said Brown will argue that his use of a firearm was “necessary to stop an attack of a man several inches taller than he and likely 50-100 pounds larger than he (Brown) is at 5’4” and 150 pounds.”
She noted that Brown, a widower whose wife died from breast cancer, “had more rounds available in his self defense too, but did not discharge those rounds.”