Apr 28, 2016 4:44 PM
MANCHESTER - A former Belknap County deputy sheriff was found guilty of the rape of an inmate Thursday in a Hillsborough County court.
Ernest Justin Blanchette was on trial for using his position of power to coerce an inmate into having sex with him.
The state has asked for his bail to be revoked, and he is being held without bail.
Sentencing is scheduled in 30 days but how did the jury reach their decision today?
It was the final day of trial and one final witness was left to take the stand.
Detective Matthew Fleming was the lead investigator in the case, and testified and then sat and watched as the prosecution presented a video of his first interrogation of Blanchette.
“I mean there is no denying it, said Fleming in the video. “We have you on surveillance there.”
“Umm.. I don’t,” replied a quite Blanchette as he shakes his head at thet investigator.
“You can’t not remember coming to here,” said Fleming pointing to a snapshot of the abandoned Bedford home.
Throughout the video Blanchette remains very quiet during the recorded interrogation and only speaking up to comment here and there.
“My career is one thing,” said Blanchette at one point. He finally admits to Fleming that he was at the abandoned home where the victim claimed they had sex but Blanchette remained vague about what actually happened there.
“The second time we stopped for a cigarette she asked to go by the house,” said Blanchette before the video ends.
Closing arguments followed making it clear the jury had a heavy decision to make and came to a guilty verdict in 2 hours.
“He knows his role, and she knows hers. I’ve given you a cell phone, cigarettes, and I let you sit up front, now it’s your turn,” said Michael Zaino, Hillsborough County Attorney in his closing argument.
The defense took the opportunity to play a phone call made to a friend, attempting to showcase the victim as someone in it for a civil suit and a possible payout to follow.
“Yes and I know that it is consensual,” said the victim in the recording. “I didn’t scream rape or anything like that but it doesn’t matter if it is consensual or not. He’s expletive a sheriff.
Blanchette has similar charges pending out of Belknap county and has trial set for those charges in the coming months.
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