Concern over mental health of witness delays Yeargle murder trialBy JOHN KOZIOL
Union Leader Correspondent
October 19. 2017 8:57PM
HAVERHILL — Concern about the mental health of the state’s eyewitness has delayed the start of the trial of Damion Yeargle, accused of shooting and killing Robert Pierog on May 27, 2016, in Littleton.
The state alleges that Yeargle, 22, of Littleton, shot Pierog multiple times with a .22 caliber rifle, in part because the victim had previously worked as a confidential informant for the Bethlehem Police Department.
A husband and father, Pierog, according to court documents, was lured out of his West Main Street residence by Quade Kadle, 19, of Jefferson, who told him that a mutual friend, Nicholas Skidmore, 22, of Littleton, needed a place to spend the night.
When Pierog, accompanied by Daniel Soto, stepped outside, the state alleges that Yeargle shot him and that Soto, who knew both men, saw the shooting and recognized Yeargle, even though he was wearing a bandana over his face.
In May, Skidmore, 22, of Littleton, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder and tampering with a witness for driving Kadle and Yeargle to and from the scene of the murder. He has yet to be sentenced and faces a term of between 13 and 30 years in New Hampshire State Prison.
Kadle, who has been charged with being an accomplice to first-degree murder, accomplice to second-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, and conspiracy to tamper with an informant, is on track for trial next February.
But Yeargle’s trial on charges of first- and second-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, and tampering with a police informant, which was to have begun in November, now will not begin for another five months after an Oct. 10 order by Justice Lawrence MacLeod.
Sitting in Grafton County Superior Court, MacLeod granted a motion assented to by both the state and defense to continue Yeargle’s trial because of what the defense called “new evidence.”
In September, Yeargle’s attorneys asked MacLeod to examine Soto’s medical records after learning that Soto may have been recently treated for mental health issues.
The state investigated and confirmed that on Aug. 21, Littleton police had contact with Soto regarding an involuntary emergency admission to a local care provider and on Sept. 13, with the Grafton County Sheriff’s Department regarding transportation from that facility to the NH State Hospital in Concord.
In court documents, the state recognizes that the defense may argue that “serious mental illness may bear directly on Mr. Soto’s ability to perceive, remember and relate the truth.”