NORTH HAVERHILL — A top prosecutor wants a judge to deny the motion for a new trial filed by Damion Yeargle, the Littleton man who last year pleaded guilty to shooting and killing a friend because he had been a police informant.
Geoff Ward, who is a senior assistant attorney general, said that Yeargle waited more than a year to claim ineffective counsel and that his motion for a new trial merely contradicts “the statements he made under oath at his plea and sentencing hearing.”
Ward made the above request in an objection filed earlier this month in Grafton County Superior Court, but the matter had not been scheduled for a hearing as of Friday.
When he pleaded guilty on May 3, 2018 to second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the connection with the May 27, 2016 murder of Robert Pierog, Yeargle was represented by two attorneys, Theodore Lothstein and Richard Guerriero.
He is currently serving between 36 and 72 years in New Hampshire State Prison.
Despite telling Judge Lawrence MacLeod that he was entering into the plea agreement knowingly and voluntarily, and that he both understood the terms of the plea and was satisfied with his legal team, Yeargle on July 22 filed a motion asking for a new trial.
Yeargle claims that Lothstein and Guerriero failed to “properly advise him of the facts of the offense and the nature of the offense to which he pleaded” and also did not provide all evidence to him.
Had he known of the evidence, Yeargle said he could have produced exculpatory evidence, meaning there would have been “a reasonable probability that he would not have plead to the two offenses if this information is known.”
Yeargle told the court he believed he was pleading guilty only to the conspiracy to commit murder charge, not also to second-degree murder, adding that his then attorneys were aware “that he denied certain acts as alleged by the state and was told he would not plead guilty to those acts at the hearing.”
Ward pointed out that the court need not even hold a hearing on a petition for habeas corpus asserting denial of effective assistance of counsel “if the existing record of the case clearly indicates that the petitioner is not entitled to the relief on the grounds alleged.”
Yeargle was one of three people who pleaded guilty to killing Pierog outside his West Main Street apartment in Littleton.
A husband and father, Pierog was lured out of his residence by Quade Kadle, of Jefferson, and Yeargle then shot him repeatedly with a .22 caliber rifle.
Nicholas Skidmore of Littleton drove both men away from the scene; immediately before the shooting, he had taken them to the Littleton Walmart where they purchased gloves and bandannas.
Kadle and Skidmore each pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder and conspiracy to tamper with a witness and are each serving 13 to 30 years in prison.