Key Witness in Farmington, NH Double Murder Won’t Go to Prison
A key witness in the brutal double murder of two women in Farmington won’t go to prison for a federal drug-dealing conviction after a judge on Tuesday sentenced Joshua Colwell to time already served.
Colwell was the star witness in the double murder trial of Timothy Verrill, who stands accused of stabbing and beating Christine Sullivan, 48, and Jenna Pellegrini, 32, to death in Sullivan's Meaderboro Road home in Farmington.
The two women were killed on Jan. 27, 2017. Verrill also allegedly tried to hide their bodies under the home’s porch and attempted to hide or destroy other evidence.
Prosecutors said at trial that Verrill thought Pelligrini was a police informant.
Sullivan was involved with the owner of the house, Dean Smoronk, an alleged methamphetamine dealer.
Defense attorneys proffered the theory that the murders were connected to an attempted expansion of the drug business with another motorcycle club.
Colwell, a former member of the Mountain Men Motorcycle Club, was busted by agents with the United States Drug Enforcement Agency in 2018 for dealing methamphetamine. He faced up to 20 years in prison for the convictions, according to court records, though the federal probation department recommended between 30 and 37 months in prison.
Colwell’s attorney, Jared Bedrick, argued that his client suffered a difficult childhood that included a stint in the Spaulding Youth Center and an abusive stepfather.
Bedrick wrote in a memo seeking no prison time that Colwell found a new way of life being involved with the motorcycle club.
“He spent much of his time partying, leading to his introduction to cocaine. Around 27, he found a destructive salve that would mask his shortcomings: club life,” Bedrick wrote. “Club life gave Josh everything he was looking for: admiration, companionship, respect; but these came at a steep cost. Within the year, his association with club members fostered a severe methamphetamine habit and penchant for illegal conduct.”
Since the arrest, Colwell has gone through rehab and become a certified drug counselor, helping other people struggling with addiction, according to Bedrick.
During the 2019 murder trial, Colwell testified about being the last person to see Verrill before the murders, and the first person to see him after the murders.
Verrill’s trial ended in a mistrial when it was found that New Hampshire State Police failed to turn over several interview recordings with potential witnesses. Lawyers for Verrill said the evidence could have exonerated their client.
Verrill sought to have the case completely dismissed, but a superior court judge found that despite the evidence snafu the charges can stand. Verrill continues to be held in jail as he appeals that ruling.
No new trial for the murders has been set.