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Delayed sexual assault trial to start today

BRENTWOOD — A judge has agreed to move forward with the sexual assault trial of a state prison inmate whose suicidal tendencies set off concerns about courthouse security earlier this year.

Patrick Eschenbrenner, 51, of Raymond is expected to go on trial today in Rockingham County Superior Court for an alleged series of sexual assaults of a young girl between 2002 and 2007.

The girl was about seven years old when the abuse began, according to prosecutors.

Eschenbrenner faces six counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault. He is already serving a 20 to 40 year prison sentence for a prior sexual assault conviction involving a young girl. A Rockingham County jury convicted him in that case in 2008.

Judge N. William Delker cancelled Eschenbrenner’s latest trial in June following a closed-door hearing that was prompted by a suicide attempt by Eschenbrenner and concerns about courthouse security.

Lawyers associated with the case recently met with the judge, and the trial date has remained on track, according to court records.

Court records say Eschenbrenner attempted suicide at the state prison on the eve of his original trial date on April 8. Corrections staff who assessed Eschenbrenner prompted concerns that he could attempt to harm himself or someone else during his trial.

His public defender described Eschenbrenner as “highly suicidal” at the time, according to court documents.

Eschenbrenner was briefly freed in 2011 from his 20 to 40 year prison sentence when a judge granted him a new trial. Prosecutors appealed that decision and the state Supreme Court concluded that the conviction should not have been overturned.

While Eschenbrenner was freed on bail, a second victim came forward to investigators, leading to his indictment in the latest case. Each of the sexual assault charges Eschenbrenner faces at trial are punishable by up to 10 to 20 years in state prison.


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