By John Pedler
Hampton Union, Friday, August 27, 2004
HAMPTON - Hampton District Court Justice Francis J. Frasier Thursday found probable cause in a charge of alleged witness tampering against Raymond Fowler of Seabrook and the case has been transferred to Rockingham County Superior Court.
On Wednesday, a Seabrook police officer testified that the mother of a former girlfriend of Fowler had filed a complaint against Fowler, saying that he had told her to drop charges against him "or she would be sorry."
Fowler appeared in court for the probable-cause hearing.
He is accused of making a threatening phone call to Candace Dow after an incident in Salisbury, Mass., in June.
His lawyer, Jerol Booker, argued that the prosecution is politically motivated by Fowler's notoriety stemming from his involvement in the Pamela Smart murder trial.
Seabrook Police Officer David Buccheri testified that he received a complaint from Dow on June 8 that Fowler had demanded in a phone call she drop destruction of property charges against him "or she would be sorry."
According to the complaint filed with Hampton District Court on July 27, Fowler told Dow "that if he has to go back (to jail) 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."
On June 8, at about 2:30 a.m., Ray Fowler and his brother, William Fowler, allegedly visited the Salisbury home of Chuck Froscone, where a former girlfriend of Ray Fowler, Trina Small, was staying.
Salisbury Police Officer Curt Calderwood testified that Froscone and Small told police the Fowlers banged on the windows and doors of the home, and Ray said, "Chucky, come out and play."
Then, according to court documents, Fowler let the air out of the tires and damaged the wiring on Small's car. Small found her car would not start the next morning, court documents say.
Calderwood said he informed Fowler he would receive a summons for destruction of property before letting the brothers go.
Later, at about 8 a.m. that morning, Seabrook Officer Buccheri received Dow's complaint about Fowler's alleged statements in a phone call. Dow also said her daughter had received similar calls demanding the Salisbury charges be dropped, court documents say.
Fowler was imprisoned after the Salisbury incident for violating his parole, pending the outcome of a full hearing. He was paroled last year after spending 13 years in prison for his involvement in the 1990 murder of Gregory Smart.
Booker, Fowler's lawyer, and family members who attended the hearing Wednesday maintain that Fowler is being prosecuted merely because of his history. They have set up a Web site, http://raymond.sealynx.net, to publicize their side of the story.
William Fowler, Ray's older brother, said Ray is the only person involved in the Pamela Smart trial who has been unable to tell his story publicly, because he has been under a gag rule. He said Ray has information that would undermine the state's case against Pamela Smart and, for that reason, the authorities are attempting to silence him.
Regarding the Smart case, the Fowler family said Ray spent 13 years in prison "for sitting in a car," and that he had no knowledge of Greg Smart's murder, which was carried out by Fowler's teenage friends, William Flynn and Patrick Randall.
Fowler stated at a parole hearing that he had gone to see Small, who is pregnant with his child, because he was concerned she was using drugs, and he had disabled her car to prevent her from driving while intoxicated.
In court, Booker made a motion to dismiss the charge, contending the specific allegations failed to match the definition of the witness-tampering statute, which reads, in part: "A person is guilty of a class B felony if: 1. Believing that an official proceeding … or investigation is pending, he attempts to induce or otherwise cause a person to: (a) Testify or inform falsely; or (b) withhold any testimony, information, document or thing ..."
Booker said the investigation into the Salisbury incident had been concluded the night it occurred and thus Fowler had not attempted to influence a pending case. He added that Dow's interpretation of Fowler's statements as threatening was subjective and thus could not be used as the basis for a criminal charge.
The latest charges, Booker said, "are a politically motivated part of the Pame Smart case. That's why everybody has lined up, circled the wagons, and is shooting at Ray. That's what this is about."
Booker noted that a state assistant attorney general is handling the case rather than a county attorney who would normally handle crimes of this level. Booker said this indicated political motivations apart from the crimes at issue.
Assistant Attorney General Karen Huntress, who is prosecuting the case, answered that Fowler had attempted to influence the official proceeding of the Salisbury matter by attempting to coerce Dow and Small to drop charges or "withhold testimony, documents and things." She submitted that probable cause existed to carry the trial forward.
Huntress said, "This case has absolutely nothing to do with Pame Smart." She added it is "very typical" for state attorneys general to follow through on cases in which they have been previously involved. "The defendant will have a jury of his peers," she said.