CONWAY, N.H. – A man who served prison time for murder has been accused of trying to drown his girlfriend in a New Hampshire river, authorities said.
Jason Farrell, 40, of Salem, was charged Saturday with attempted murder and second-degree assault, according to the New Hampshire Union Leader.
Conway police officials told the newspaper that Farrell was found sitting in his vehicle in the parking lot of a canoe rental business near the Saco River. Witnesses told responding officers that Farrell had held the victim’s head under the surface of the water during a fight.
The woman was found further down the river and taken to a hospital. She was not seriously injured, according to the Union Leader.
Police officials said Farrell has an extensive criminal history, including a conviction for a 1996 murder he committed at the age of 16.
New Hampshire Supreme Court records show that Farrell, a friend and a neighbor went to a vacant lot in Concord on Feb. 19, 1996, to shoot a handgun Farrell had taken from his home several days earlier. While walking back to his friend’s apartment, they met up with the 14-year-old shooting victim, the documents say.
Back at the apartment, Farrell’s friend loaded two bullets in the gun and the teens began “messing around” with the weapon, the records state.
“(Farrell) apparently decided to play a joke on the victim in an effort to scare him,” the Supreme Court documents say. “He asked his friend to count to 10 and yell ‘bang’ while he held the gun approximately 2 feet from the victim’s face. He threatened to shoot the victim, saying, ‘I’m going to bust a cap in you.’ The victim replied, ‘Don’t point that at me.’
“The defendant allegedly took the gun off safety and again pointed it at the victim’s face at close range. He asked his friend to count to 10 but before the count concluded, the gun discharged, critically wounding the victim, who died shortly thereafter.”
The Union Leader reported that Farrell was tried as an adult and convicted in 1999. He was sentenced to 22 to 44 years in prison.
The Supreme Court reversed his conviction in 2001, however, finding that police failed to identify and notify his parents immediately of his arrest. When his father showed up at the Concord Police Department, detectives continued questioning Farrell and failed to tell him his father was there and wished to see and speak to him.
“In sum, the police effectively sequestered the defendant while obtaining his statements, and left his father waiting in the wings,” the decision reads. “Such conduct is inconsistent with the increased care required when a juvenile is detained and interrogated and renders the defendant’s Miranda waiver invalid.”
The case was remanded to the trial court and, according to the Union Leader, Farrell ultimately ended up with a reduced sentence that allowed him to be released within three years of his conviction.