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Home » News » Crime

November 27. 2013 7:44PM

Plea deal ends Windham man's road rage case that was derailed by 'Laurie List' issue

NASHUA — A Windham man avoided heading to trial for a second time on a 2011 road rage case, months after a judge upended his conviction because prosecutors failed to disclose that a former Pelham police officer had a potential credibility issue related to his testimony.

Cody Eller, 21, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to a single misdemeanor count of vehicular assault in Hillsborough County Superior Court in Nashua.

Eller's conviction on charges of second-degree assault and reckless conduct was set aside by a Superior Court judge after his trial in April once it was discovered that former Pelham police Officer Eugene Stahl was on the state's 'Laurie List.'

The list is used by prosecutors to identify police officers with potential credibility issues.

Eller had expected to face a second trial on felony charges Dec. 16, but that was brought to an end as a result of Tuesday's plea agreement. He received a suspended six-month county jail sentence, and was ordered to perform 50 hours of community service.

"I can tell you that Cody Eller is a good kid. I represented him from the time he was charged, and he has grown up," his lawyer, Jeffrey Kaye, said. "He needs to move on with life."

Eller was charged by police after a May 2011 crash on Windham Road in Pelham. Prosecutors accused Eller, then 18, of forcing a motorcycle off the road as it tried to pass him.

Judge Jacalyn Colburn, who set aside the verdicts in the first trial, accepted the terms of the plea deal that resolved the case.

The defense learned of Stahl being on the state's Laurie List one day after the first trial, when prosecutors notified him they had failed to notify the defense about it.

Stahl was terminated by Pelham on Sept. 10. Police Chief Joseph Roark recommended firing Stahl, voicing concerns about the town's civil liability related to his conduct over the years.

Kaye said on Wednesday that he has submitted materials to the state Supreme Court's Rules Committee, suggesting that defense lawyers should be given access to so-called exculpatory materials that prosecutors privately submit to a judge.

"I believe defense attorneys should be privy to what prosecutors deem exculpatory materials," he said. "They don't know my case. The judge doesn't know my case."

Kaye said the defense should be able to view such materials in the judge's chambers and be subject to a confidentiality agreement.

Hillsborough County Attorney Patricia LaFrance said her office has taken new measures to ensure that the defense is properly notified about potential Laurie List issues.

She is also now serving on a committee with the Attorney General's Office to clarify practices and procedures regarding the Laurie List.

LaFrance said one misconception about the Laurie List is that it only contains the name of officers with credibility issues.

"That couldn't be further from the truth," she said. Other names have been put on the list out of an abundance of caution by area police chiefs, who have rank-and-file officers who simply made a mistake while on the job, according to LaFrance.

jkimble@newstote.com


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