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Manchester Police Officer Nathan Linstad was found not guilty today of simple assault. Linstad is shown as he testified in his own defense during his simple assault trial Wednesday in Rockingham County Superior Court. He was accused of body slamming his wife at their Raymond home on Sept. 5. (JAMES A. KIMBLE/UNION LEADER CORRESPONDENT)

Manchester police officer found not guilty of simple assault

BRENTWOOD – A jury found Manchester police officer Nathan Linstad not guilty of simple assault against his estranged wife at the couple’s Raymond home in September.  

Jurors returned their verdict Thursday in Rockingham County Superior Court after deliberating for about 2 1/2 hours.

“I’m pleased with the jury’s verdict, and Officer Linstad is relieved,” defense lawyer Eric Wilson said in an interview. Linstad, 35, was charged with misdemeanor simple assault, an offense punishable by up to a year in jail.

Since being charged in September, Linstad has remained on inside duty at the Manchester police station.

During the trial, Linstad acknowledged he had been communicating with a variety of women using his work phone for more than four years.

Prosecutors had alleged he grabbed his estranged wife, Melinda, in a bear hug and body slammed her to the floor while the two argued about his cell phone.

Linstad and Melinda Linstad both testified during the three day trial, giving alternate accounts of an argument at their Raymond home on the morning of Sept. 5.

Melinda Linstad testified she was calling the phone number of another woman on her husband’s cell phone when she was grabbed from behind.

Nathan Linstad testified that he never laid hands on his wife, and that she “flopped” to the ground before calling out to their 5-year-old son to ask if he saw her being thrown down.

Wilson argued to the jury that the devil was in the details, which provided them with enough information to find Linstad not guilty.

“If you could come to two conclusions, one that he assaulted her, one he didn’t assault her, then you must acquit him,” Wilson said during closing arguments.

Assistant County Attorney Patricia Conway described Linstad as a “superb liar” who tried to hide his affair along with a history of trading photos, e-mails and text messages with other women.

Raymond police Detective Richard Lebell, who investigated the incident, and Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Jennie Duval, were among the state’s witnesses.

Duval testified that Melinda Linstad’s injuries did not surface for several hours because it took time for coagulated blood to rise above the muscle and fatty tissue. Duval added that Melinda Linstad would also have had to fall from an elevated position and not break her fall to sustain such injuries.

A defense-hired medical expert, Dr. Gus Emmick, testified that the bruising on Melinda Linstad should have been prevalent much earlier than what was reported to Raymond police.

Jurors saw photographs of Melinda Linstad’s bruises to her right arm and upper right thigh.

Wilson argued that his client may have been untruthful to his wife about talking to other women, but he did not get into a physical confrontation with her.