Dead Witness Speaks Via Recording in Verrill Double-Murder Trial

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Timothy Verrill is pictured Thursday in Strafford Superior Court in Dover.


DOVER – Did Stephen Clough walk into the Farmington house hours after Christine Sullivan and Jenna Pellegrini were brutally murdered by Timothy Verrill, or was he part of someone else’s scheme to carry out and cover up the killings?

Jurors heard from Clough Thursday afternoon, even though he died after testifying for the state in Verrill’s first botched murder trial in 2019.

A recording of that first testimony, now redacted, was played for jurors Thursday. The jury is expected to hear more from Clough, through a recording of his 2019 cross-examination Friday.

 Prosecutors plan to call one more live witness after Clough before resting the state’s case.

Clough, a drug dealer in Dean Smoronk and Sullivan’s trafficking operation who used crystal meth, supposedly bolsters the case against Verrill with his claims he could not find the women on Jan. 28, 2017.

 A drugged out and paranoid Verrill is alleged to have killed the women on Jan. 27, 2017, after he became suspicious Pellegrini was a police informant. Their bodies were found Jan. 29, 2017, hidden under the porch.

In fact, court records later revealed Clough was an informant for the DEA around the time of the murders. One witness told police that Clough, John “Buddy” Seymour, and Smoronk were at the house for the killings, and Seymour moved the bodies.

Smoronk, who flew to Florida on Jan. 26, 2017, asked Clough to check on Sullivan. But Clough is not the only person Smoronk had checking on the house that weekend. He called his old friend, Jason Parker, to check on Sullivan on the morning of Jan. 27, 2017. Parker testified Thursday morning, in person, he got to the house and did not see anything out of the ordinary, though he was unable to get Sullivan on her cell phone.

Parker does not appear to be part of Smoronk’s world of drug dealing and associations with motorcycle gangs, meeting Smoronk 30 years ago when they both worked at Cabletron.

Smoronk, who has not testified at this trial, reportedly became alarmed when he could not contact his girlfriend and drug dealing partner. Clough testified he was apprehensive when he and his friend, John “Buddy” Seymour, got to the house. Sullivan’s and Pellegrini’s cars were at the home, but the windows of the two story garage had been painted with green spray paint.

“It looked like people should have been there. I was kind of freaked out,” Clough said.

Seymour also died since the 2017 murders took place. The two men had pistols when they went into the empty house, Clough said. They found the beds stripped of sheets and blankets, and a rug on Pellegrini’s bed. The floor in her room was wet, Clough testified.

Though police would find thousands of dollars in cash, Clough said Sullivan’s safe was open when he checked her room.

Throughout his time in the house that day, Clough was in contact with Smoronk, calling and texting his drug supplier about what he was finding. At one point, Clough removed the recreational cocaine-filled bowl and crystal meth from Smoronk’s room at his boss’s request. Clough and Smoronk were in near constant contact through Jan. 28, 2017 and Jan. 29, 2017, according to their phone records.

Smoronk was allegedly angry with Sullivan and wanted to sever their partnership. He is alleged to have offered a Florida man money to kill her, according to evidence originally withheld from the defense. In the weeks leading up to Sullivan and Pellegrini’s murder, Smoronk was forming a partnership with Josh Colwell, an enforcer for the Mountain Man Motorcycle Club. The two were allegedly planning to take the business from Sullivan.

Colwell testified last week that Verrill was acting strange the day of the murder, asking about Pellegrini as a possible informant. On Thursday, Colwell’s girlfriend, Cassandra Fuse, testified Colwell talked frequently about Verrill’s deteriorating mental health in the weeks before the murder.

However, details in her testimony contradict the state’s case. Verrill, who was known for smelling strongly of body odor by his friends, still smelled that way when Fuse hugged him hours after the murders reportedly took place. She testified she could not smell any bleach or cleaning product used to clean up the crime scene. Additionally, Fuse testified Verrill was wearing shoes, contradicting Colwell’s story that his friend was shoeless after the murders.

The trial is expected to pause on Monday in order to allow an expert witness called by the defense to get to New Hampshire and give testimony on Tuesday.

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