Timothy Verrill jury ends day early to see eclipse: No verdict yet in double murder trial

Karen Dandurant
Foster's Daily Democrat

DOVER — The jury in the Timothy Verrill double murder trial had still not reached a verdict Monday afternoon, and its members requested to leave early, at 3 p.m., because some members wanted to make sure to see the solar eclipse.

Jurors have been deliberating since Thursday afternoon last week.

At 2 p.m., on Monday, the jury sent a question for clarification to Judge Mark Howard. They said they were struggling with cause, and asked Howard to define it.

Timmothy Verrill leaves the courtroom during a break between closing arguments in his double murder trial at Strafford County Superior Court in Dover Wednesday, April 3, 2024.

In the courtroom before the state and defense attorneys, Howard said in his answer to the jury, if neither side objected or wanted to add anything, the jury must decide if the state had proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the actions of Verrill were the cause that brought about the death of the two women, Christine Sullivan and Jenna Pellegrini.

Neither side objected and the jury returned to deliberations. They left at 3 p.m. and will return Tuesday for more deliberations.

Verrill is on trial in Strafford County Superior Court for the murders of the two women at a Farmington home in 2017. This is the second trial in the case, following a 2019 mistrial because New Hampshire State Police failed to provide some evidence to the defense in discovery.

Verrill has been in jail since 2017, when he was arrested and charged with killing Christine Sullivan and Jenna Pellegrini, who were both bludgeoned and stabbed to death on Jan. 27, 2017 at a 969 Meaderboro Road home in Farmington owned by Dean Smoronk, who was Sullivan’s boyfriend.

In closing arguments this week, Senior Assistant Attorney General Peter Hinckley, the lead prosecutor, told the jury evidence shows Verrill planned to spy on the women, believing at least one was a drug informant, that he returned to the house, murdered the women, cleaned the scene, and moved the bodies.

"He used multiple weapons, in a brutal attack," said Hinckley. "He made a conscious decision to kill them so hold him responsible."

The defense painted a very different picture, portraying Verrill as the scapegoat, a fall guy for the people who really killed Sullivan and Pellegrini.

Public defender Julia Nye said there is reasonable doubt and focused heavily on DNA found under the fingernails of the victims that did not match Verrill. She also emphasized broken rings belonging to Sullivan, also excluded Verrill from a DNA match. Nye also suggested others, including Smoronk, were ignored by investigators as potential suspects. The prosecution has said evidence shows Smoronk was in Florida at the time of the killings.