OSSIPEE — A Carroll County man whose child sex assault convictions were thrown out by the New Hampshire Supreme Court last month has been released on bail and allowed to keep the guns he uses to hunt.
Ronald L. Fuller, 60, formerly of Wakefield, had been serving a minimum state prison sentence of 15 years at the Northern New Hampshire Correctional Facility and Berlin, when the high court reversed the convictions.
Carroll County Attorney Michaela Andruzzi has pledged to take the case back to trial.
On Monday, Fuller appeared in Carroll County Superior Court in Ossipee, with his most recent public defender Peter McKenna, who argued that Fuller had abided by all prior bail conditions and should again be freed on his own recognizance.
“He has shown nothing but respect for the court’s prior orders,” McKenna said.
Andruzzi argued that the tenor of the case has changed in that Fuller is now aware that people are willing to testify against him and that he could face a sentence of 25 years to life, because the witness was under 13 when the abuse allegedly occurred.
She said she understood that Fuller had previously been granted bail while cases were pending, but urged the judge to bar him from leaving the state, having any contact with the witnesses in the case and be banned from possessing any weapons.
“The state is very concerned about his access to firearms given the defendant’s knowledge of who the state will call as witnesses, what they will say and that he is facing a lengthy prison sentence,” Andruzzi said.
In overturning the convictions, the justices found fault with the state’s questioning of the police detective about the nature of sexual assault reports in general, holding that it prejudiced the defendant’s right to a fair trial by bolstering the witnesses’ credibility.
Fuller, who now lives in Wolfeboro, is also facing similar sexual assault charges involving another alleged victim that were filed in 2017.
According to court records, Fuller has faced trial on child sex assault charges three time dating back to 2005. Following the first trial, the charges were dismissed by the judge, who said the indictments were defective. Nine years later the charges were refiled; the case ended in a mistrial after the jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict.
During the most recent trial, the state’s case largely hinged upon the jury’s assessment of the alleged victim’s credibility.
Judge Amy Ignatius, who presided over Fuller’s May 2018 trial said there was “a sufficient track record that is positive” for her to mirror previous bail conditions. Fuller was released on personal recognizance bail on the conditions he not commit any crimes or motor vehicle infractions, sign a new waiver of extradition, drink no alcohol or take any unprescribed drugs.
The judge also authorized Fuller to keep his muzzle loader, a 20-gauge shotgun and a 30/30 deer rifle and ammunition. She also approved allowing him to travel to Maine for a week in November, for an annual hunting trip.
The defense was given a Jan. 21 deadline to notify the court as to whether the 2014 or the 2017 charges that remain pending will go to trial in June, or if a plea agreement is possible.