Fowler Faces Witness-tampering Charge

By Susan Morse

Hampton Union, Sunday, August 8, 2004

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]

SEABROOK - Raymond A. Fowler, 32, of Seabrook, entered no plea in Hampton District Court this week to charges he tried to coerce his former girlfriend into dropping a charge of disturbing the peace against him. In handcuffs and wearing a dark-green state prison jumpsuit, Fowler stood before Judge Francis J. Frasier on a felony charge of witness tampering. His potential prison sentence if convicted is 3½ to seven years, and a $4,000 fine.

Fowler, who spent 12 years in prison as an accessory in the Pamela Smart murder case, had been free on parole for the past 14 months. He now faces serving the remainder of his sentence to 2013 for breaking parole and possibly more on the felony conviction.

He is scheduled to return to district court on Aug. 25 for a probable-cause hearing on the witness-tampering charge. If the case goes to trial, it will be heard in Rockingham Superior Court.

Fowler's attorney, Jorel Booker, said he expects his client to be indicted by a grand jury before the probable cause hearing. Booker said he will file a motion to dismiss the witness tampering charge.

"My argument is, What are they saying he did?" Booker said on Wednesday. "Where are they claiming he (Fowler) said, 'Withhold your testimony?' The police are back-filling."

Fowler is being prosecuted because he is Ray Fowler, said Booker. The prosecution doesn't have enough evidence on the disturbing-the-peace charge, he said, and therefore has brought the more severe charge of witness tampering.

"The prosecution gets to beat him up with the ghost of a dead man (Gregory Smart)," Booker said. "The prosecution gets to lean on the Pame Smart case and Ray gets caught in the herd, who did not kill him."

Fowler was convicted of conspiracy to murder and burglary charges in the 1990 shooting death of Gregory Smart. Fowler was 18 when he went for a ride with Seabrook friends William Flynn, Vance "J.R." Lattime, and Patrick Randall to the Derry condominium Smart shared with his wife, Pamela. She was then a 22-year-old media coordinator at Winnacunnet High School who was having an affair with Flynn. Fowler waited in the car while Flynn shot Gregory Smart to death.

Fowler's family says he did not know Flynn was going to kill Smart, and that he went along because he thought they were going to steal items from the house.

The family, which includes his mother, Paula Fowler of Washington Street, brothers William and Robert, and grandparents Raymond and Phila Sturgis, said Raymond Fowler's side of the case has never been told.

Fowler never got to testify during Pamela Smart's trial, they said. The prosecution knew Fowler would contradict much of the testimony of Flynn, Lattime, and Randall, said William Fowler.

The family said they are withholding Fowler's side of the story until Raymond is a free man. William and Robert this week started a Web site about their brother to get information out to the public on the high-profile case.

After Tuesday's arraignment, Fowler was taken back to the state prison in Concord where he has been since June 15 when his new parole officer out of Exeter, Robert Meegan, arrested him for violating parole.

The parole violation stems from a June 8 disturbing-the-peace charge involving Fowler and his brother William in Salisbury, Mass.

Early in the morning of June 8, Raymond and William Fowler drove to an apartment building in Salisbury to check on Raymond Fowler's then-girlfriend, who Raymond believed was pregnant and using drugs, Raymond Fowler testified during his parole hearing last week. Fowler learned she was there with another man. Fowler admitted to knocking on the main door to the building, tapping on the window to his girlfriend's apartment, and letting air out of one of the tires to her car to prevent her from driving while under the influence.

Salisbury police, who were called to the apartment, told the brothers they would be receiving a summons in the mail for disturbing the peace. William and Raymond had not received the summons as of Tuesday, according to William Fowler.

Later the same morning of June 8, Raymond Fowler allegedly spoke with his former girlfriend's mother, who lives in Seabrook. It is this conversation that resulted in Seabrook police levying the witness-tampering charge.

According to the complaint filed in district court, Fowler said that if he has to go back to jail that they "will all be sorry. ... That if he goes back for eight years he will be out in eight years and that the small incident of letting air out of tires and messing with wires is small compared to what he will do next."

Fowler's attorney said the charge was brought to keep Fowler in prison on the parole violation.

"If not," said Booker, "he's in jail for letting a little air out of the tire."

Last Tuesday, the three-member parole board ruled there were grounds to charge Fowler with violating parole, based on the disturbing-the-peace summons. Sentencing on the parole violation is expected to await the outcome of the witness-tampering charge.