Dead Witness Set To Testify Against Verrill in Double Murder Trial

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Timothy Verrill's stepmother Suzanne Verrill is pictured testifying Tuesday in his double murder trial.


DOVER – A now dead witness who was at one point himself a suspect in the murders of Christine Sullivan and Jenna Pellegrini is going to testify Wednesday against Timothy Verrill.

A recording of Stephen Clough’s testimony from 2019 will be played for jurors in the Strafford Superior Court on Wednesday.

Clough was one of the state’s key witnesses in the first trial against Verrill, but that was before it was revealed Clough’s connection to the murders might be more involved.

In fact, Clough’s involvement in events surrounding the 2017 Farmington murders is at the heart of the evidence prosecutors and police somehow mishandled and failed to turn over to the defense, resulting in a mistrial.

“There were three different incidents of discovery violations uncovered during the trial; undisclosed information regarding primarily Monique Cole, Clough’s ex-girlfriend and the mother of his daughter on October 23 (2019); disclosure of a pre-polygraph video-taped interview with Clough had been conducted in August 2017, at the conclusion of which the examiner determined it would not be appropriate to conduct a polygraph examination on October 30 (2019) after trial ended for the day; and additional information totaling approximately 500 pages and 39 media disks after trial,” Lugo wrote.

According to the testimony the state kept hidden, Clough’s August 2017 lie detector test was scuttled because he had “guilty knowledge” about the murders, Lugo wrote. In fact, the evidence the state was late in handing over indicates Clough thought police considered him a suspect in the brutal slayings, and repeatedly sought a lie detector test to clear himself.

“I can’t believe this is going on again where I’m being questioned like I’m not believed,” Clough said according to the transcript of the pre-polygraph interview.

Verrill maintains his innocence and has pointed to Sullivan’s boyfriend and drug trafficking partner Dean Smoronk as the likely culprit. Smoronk and Sullivan’s relationship turned toxic after they were arrested with methamphetamine in 2016 in South Carolina. Smoronk started forming an alliance with Josh Colwell, a member of the Mountain Men Motorcycle Club, and told his associates how much he hated Sullivan.

In the trove of withheld evidence since released is a witness who claims Smoronk wanted to hire him to kill Sullivan.

After the mistrial it was also learned that Clough was an informant for investigators with the Drug Enforcement Administration. Clough was giving information to DEA agents investigating Smoronk and Sullivan’s drug trafficking operation.

Further evidence came out showing that Clough was in contact with “Spider” Mike Ditoria around the time of the murders. Another witness not known to the defense at the first trial, Chris Cortez, told investigators Clough and Ditoria were with Smoronk at the house during the murders.

 Smoronk flew to Florida two days before the murders, and reported Sullivan missing when he flew back a day after the women were killed. But Cortez told investigators Smoronk secretly came back to New Hampshire and was present when the killings took place.

Of all the people interviewed by investigators, only Clough and Ditoria were asked to submit to polygraph exams. Part of the evidence that wasn’t originally handed over shows Ditoria failed one question during his polygraph, when he was asked if he murdered the women.

The state additionally kept information about Clough’s mental state from the defense team. Clough seemingly suffered from audio and visual hallucinations as well as paranoia, and had texted New Hampshire State Police Lt. Brian Strong disconcerting pleas about these delusions.

The prosecution is still presenting evidence, and Tuesday’s testimony did not touch on the revelations from the withheld discovery. Instead, jurors heard about fingerprints from the crime scene, a search of Verrill’s car, and how Verrill’s stepmother, Suzanne Verrill, took him to the hospital a day after the women were killed. Verrill called his stepmother in distress hours after learning Sullivan was missing. He told his stepmother he needed help.

“I’ve been having some weird days,” Verrill texted his stepmother. “I think I need to see a doctor.”

She took him to the hospital where he disclosed he was using a lot of cocaine and methamphetamine. He was not admitted to the hospital that day, but was in a rehabilitation facility when police subsequently arrested him.

Damien Fisher is a veteran New Hampshire reporter who lives in the Monadnock region with his wife, writer Simcha Fisher, their many children, as well as their dog, cat, parakeet, ducks, and seamonkeys. 

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