Lack of Justice? Peggy Starr's trial delayed again
DOVER - A woman accused of starving a young boy in New Durham will have to wait for another day in court.
Peggy Starr, 57, of Nottingham, was on the witness stand Monday, emotionally defending herself, during her first-degree assault trial.
Starr has been before Judge Steven Houran on 14 days over the course of the last several months, but because of a lack of judges, there has been no conclusion, according to County Attorney Thomas Velardi.
"It's not anyone's fault. It's just this is the system we have right now, where we only have so many judges," Velardi said, explaining that there is just one full-time judge at Strafford County Superior Court.
A part-time judge from Sullivan County helps out for two weeks a month, but that means the people there do not have anyone to proceed over trials and other hearings, Velardi said.
Velardi said that when he began working in Dover 16 years ago, there were three judges. Budget cuts slashed the number over the years.
"We have less judges to conduct our business than we did before," Velardi said.
Velardi said attorneys in his office try to use technology and other methods to make things easier, but the strain is real. Starr is an example of a criminal defendant who is allowed to roam freely because she is out on bail.
But that does not make her alleged crime less serious than those who are incarcerated in Strafford County House of Corrections. Their cases must be heard in a timely manner because they are being held against their will.
Starr is accused of first degree assault, after the state says she and her biological daughter, Christina Thomas, withheld food from the boy. When he was taken from Thomas' care at six-years-old, he weighed just 23 pounds.
Witnesses in Starr's trial said the boy was held in a dog crate and chained to a bunk bed during the alleged abuse.
Thomas has been convicted for her involvement in the crime, and is now serving a maximum sentence of 10 to 30 years in prison.
If convicted, Starr faces the same fate.
Follow Kimberley Haas on Twitter @KHaasNH1.