Papillon convicted of second-degree murderBy MARK HAYWARD
New Hampshire Union Leader
March 16. 2018 2:20PM
MANCHESTER — A Hillsborough County jury on Thursday found the leader of a Manchester street gang guilty of the November 2015 murder of Michael Pittman, a man the gang mistakenly believed was working as a confidential police informant.
Paulson Papillon, 28, who fired his attorneys halfway through the trial and gave his own closing argument, was found guilty of second-degree murder and murder-conspiracy. The jury cleared him of first-degree murder.
The verdict makes him the fourth and final defendant to face charges in Pittman’s murder.
Adrien Stillwell, the trigger man, has been convicted of first-degree murder. Papillon called him to the stand, and Stillwell testified last week that Papillon had nothing to do with the murder.
Two others — Michael Younge and Nathaniel Smith — have pleaded guilty to lesser charges. While both were expected to testify in the Papillon trial, only Younge ended up doing so.
“We’re dealing with witnesses who had criminal records of their own and did not want to come forward. Witness reluctance in this case was not surprising,” said Peter Hinckley, the associate New Hampshire attorney general who prosecuted the case.
He said he was disappointed that Papillon was not found guilty of first-degree murder.
“This was all about the drug world,” said Manchester police Capt. Ryan Grant, who was in Hillsborough County Superior Court-North on Thursday for the verdict. “You’re dealing with drug addicts and drug dealers and they’re not always the most cooperative.”
He called the verdict great and credited his detectives and the Attorney General’s office. He said the biggest challenge was ensuring the continued cooperation of witnesses in the case.
A woman who sat behind Papillon at the trial told a Union Leader reporter that she was Papillon’s wife, but would not say anything after the verdict was read.
Richard Guerriero, Papillon’s former lawyer who continued in an advisory capacity, said it would be inappropriate for him to comment.
Pittman, who police said was struggling to overcome a heroin addiction, was shot when he went outside his Douglas Street apartment on the early evening of Nov. 3, 2015. He told his wife he wanted to fix a light in her car.
He was a customer of Papillon, the leader of a small group selling cocaine and heroin in Manchester, according to testimony.
Whether the group was a gang depends on how one defines a gang, Hinckley said.
“A gang like the Bloods and Crips? No, but they were a criminal association,” he said.
Papillon is currently sentenced to New Hampshire State Prison on drug trafficking charges out of Manchester. He was also convicted in Merrimack County Superior Court of importing drugs into state prison.
A second-degree murder conviction carries a maximum sentence of life in prison with the possibility of parole. Murder-conspiracy carries a minimum sentence of 10 years.
Judge Kenneth Brown set a sentencing date of May 22.
Testimony in the trial ended a week ago. The jury got the case on Monday, but did not meet Tuesday because of the snowstorm. The verdict was issued early Thursday afternoon.