by Garret Ean
Sep 12 2012
An article published in Monday’s Union Leader sources a video from the FreeConcordTV youtube channel. In a follow-up piece on the recent State v Jonathan Evans, the full trial footage is linked toward the end of the article, when describing the oddity occurring on camera when a seemingly civilian witness open carries onto the witness stand. Jim Berry identified on the stand as being employed by Riley’s gun store, but I have since been informed that he had been hired by the Northfield police department. It appears he is also sporting a badge on his waistband at 28:10 in the first third of the trial.
The article also reveals that Mr. Blackden has still not been returned his vest, though an older comment from prosecutor John Webb indicates he intends to file a motion to return the unlawfully seized vest. Text of the article:
Concord business Owner Awaiting Return of
Road Dawgs Vest
by Mark Hayward
New Hampshire Union Leader
Two weeks after a judge cleared a Hill police officer in the theft of a Road Dawgs motorcycle vest, the man who claims to own it has yet to get it back.
Concord business owner Brian Blackden said he doesn’t even know the whereabouts of the vest, which he had insisted was stolen from his Main Street shop.
“This judge has no legal right to hold that vest,” said Blackden, who had hung the vest on a female mannequin in his pepper-spray supply store.
Road Dawgs is a motorcycle club comprised of current and former police officers who ride together while off-duty.
On Aug. 24, Concord District Court Judge Gerard Boyle cleared Hill police officer Jonathan Evans of a criminal charge of stealing the vest. Boyle ruled the action did not meet the statutory definition of theft, which includes an intention to permanently deprive a victim of property.
Bedford police Sgt. Gary Norton, who faced a Class B misdemeanor theft by unauthorized taking charge in connection with the case, committed suicide May 11, the day the criminal complaints were filed in court.
Blackden said he’s spoken to the prosecutor in the case, Assistant Cheshire County Attorney John Webb, who plans to file a motion to have the vest returned. Efforts to reach Webb were unsuccessful on Thursday.
Concord police Chief John Duval said on Friday the vest is at Concord District Court, and Concord police will retrieve it and return it to evidence.
It will stay in the custody of Concord police until police receive an order from a judge ruling on what happens to the vest, he said.
According to trial testimony, members of the Road Dawgs entered the store in May 2011.
One took the vest from a mannequin and gave it to Evans. The officers later turned it over to Concord police, prompting Boyle to rule they never planned to deprive the owner of it permanently.
Blackden said the vest is probably worth $200 to $300, but is invaluable to him as a business draw.
He testified he received it when he purchased the contents of a repossessed storage locker.
Blackden said he has asked the court system why a witness in the trial, Jim Berry, was allowed to wear a gun in the courtroom. A former Concord police sergeant, Berry testified about the Concord police investigation into the reported theft.
A Youtube video of the trial shows Berry wearing a handgun in a holster while taking and leaving the witness stand. State law makes it a felony for anyone to bring a firearm into a courthouse, except sworn police officers.
“If I walked into the courtroom with a gun, I’d be arrested or sitting in jail right now,” Blackden said. “Just because he’s a former police officer, he gets a pass? It’s more of the same. It’s a good old boys club.”
Court spokesman Laura Kiernan said that Blackden has been in contact with the administration regarding a case in Concord District Court.
But she said it is a personnel matter and she could not discuss it further.
“We obviously don’t comment about security procedures,” she said.
Efforts to reach Berry through his employer, Riley’s Gun Shop, were unsuccessful.
Check out previous local newspaper coverage of State v Jonathan Evans here.