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Suicide try by former Raymond man delays trial in rape case


BRENTWOOD - A former Raymond man recently sent back to prison to serve a 20- to 40-year prison sentence on a sexual assault conviction attempted suicide just as his latest trial was to begin on charges that he raped a 7-year-old girl.

A judge has set a June 17 trial date for Patrick Eschenbrenner, who faces six counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault for allegedly abusing the girl between in 2002 and 2007.

Judge N. William Delker said in a court order that Eschenbrenner's trial on April 8 had to be delayed because he was being treated in an infirmary for injuries related to the suicide attempt.

The court order does not say when the suicide attempt occurred. Delker said he was informed about the matter on the day the trial was set to begin.

If convicted in the latest case, Eschenbrenner, 51, could have decades added to his current prison term. He faces up to 10 to 20 years in state prison on each of the latest sex assault charges.

Eschenbrenner was briefly freed from prison two years ago after being convicted by a jury in a 1998 rape case.

Superior Court Chief Justice Tina Nadeau decided that Eschenbrenner did not receive effective assistance from his lawyer during his 2008 trial, and that the jury should not have been allowed to hear opinions of police officers during their testimony.

Nadeau concluded that the officers improperly conveyed to the jury that they believed the victim's allegations of sexual abuse.

The state Supreme Court disagreed with Nadeau in February, concluding that Eschenbrenner did not deserve a new trial.Eschenbrenner had been in state prison for roughly three years when he was freed on bail in 2011 in the wake of Nadeau's decision.

A Rockingham County jury convicted him after a trial in May 2008.

A second victim stepped forward after Eschenbrenner was released on bail.

An investigation into that case resulted in Eschenbrenner being arrested again in December 2011 while he was living in Glenburne, Maine.

Eschenbrenner was also indicted on a single count of witness tampering. Prosecutors allege that Eschenbrenner wrote to the alleged victim following his arrest in December 2011, asking her to not appear in court to testify.

After Nadeau's decision, Assistant County Attorney Jerome Blanchard convinced the state Attorney General's Office to appeal her ruling.

jkimble@newstote.com

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