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Thirty years after murder of same-sex Nashua couple, Canadian man to plead guilty

Union Leader Correspondent

February 08. 2018 9:11PM
Anthony Barnaby and David Caplin attend a prior court hearing at Hillsborough County Superior Court in Nashua; they are both facing murder charges for a 1988 double homicide in the Gate City. (Kimberly Houghton file photo)

NASHUA — Thirty years after the brutal murders of a same-sex couple, a former Nashua man now intends to plead guilty.

David Caplin, a Micmac Indian from the Restigouche Reservation in Quebec, has maintained his innocence since the 1988 killings of Brenda Warner and Charlene Ranstrom.

A plea and sentencing hearing has been scheduled for Wednesday in Hillsborough County Superior, according to a court official.

Caplin, 55, is one of two men facing murder charges; Anthony Barnaby, 50, who grew up with Caplin in Quebec, will face trial on May 15.

Barnaby was tried three times on murder charges, but the highly publicized trials in 1989 and 1990 all ended in mistrials when the juries could not reach unanimous verdicts.

Barnaby and Caplin lived in the same Mason Street apartment building as Warner, 32, and Ranstrom 48. The women were found bound; they died of multiple stab wounds and blunt-force trauma.

Caplin had previous murder charges dropped after a superior court judge ruled physical evidence against Caplin and statements he made at a court hearing could not be used against him.

The 1988 cold case was reopened in 2011 when evidence on several hair samples and a bloodied sock were submitted for modern DNA testing, allowing the new indictments to move forward and the arrests of Caplin and Barnaby.

According to court documents, the new DNA testing revealed Caplin’s DNA was located in a hair root found in Warner’s hand, and in Warner’s rape kit swabs.

Caplin’s defense attorney, Ray Raimo, claims in court records that witnesses were expressing difficulties in recalling events related to the case, and health problems may have affected the ability for some witnesses to recall and testify at trial.

Previously, state prosecutors sought to take video trial depositions of 11 witnesses in Canada. Susan Morrell, senior assistant attorney general, argued in court documents that all of the witnesses are critical, with “each of them having first-hand knowledge of material facts relevant to the homicides, important evidence of motive and planning and/or critical admissions of guilt by the defendants.”

Caplin was to have gone on trial next month. His plea and sentencing hearing are set for 10 a.m. on Wednesday; details of the plea deal were not immediately available in court records on Thursday.

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