New Hampshire v. StillwellAnnotate this Case
Defendant Adrien Stillwell was convicted by jury on one count of first degree murder, one count of second degree murder, and one count of conspiracy to commit murder. Paulson Papillon sold drugs to M.P. and to a confidential informant. Shortly thereafter, police arrested and jailed Papillon for selling drugs to the informant. After Papillon was released, and believing that M.P. was a “snitch” and responsible for his arrest, Papillon offered a bounty for M.P.’s death. Papillon subsequently met with the defendant, Nathanial Smith, and Michael Younge on multiple occasions and discussed killing M.P. Defendant and Smith met Younge at a convenience store; the trio then headed to M.P.’s apartment building, where defendant shot and killed M.P. Shortly thereafter, a neighbor, who had heard “loud bangs” and her trash barrel falling over, found a gun when picking up the trash barrel. Forensic testing established that a bullet recovered from the victim’s body had been fired from the gun. A New Hampshire State Police Forensic Laboratory employee subsequently swabbed the gun for DNA. Police executed a body warrant on defendant at the police department in Manchester, and took a buccal swab of the inside of his mouth for use as a “known sample” for comparison to other evidence. Defendant waived his Miranda rights and spoke with police for approximately forty-five minutes in a recorded interview. After his arrest, defendant shared a jail cell with Scott Collier, and told Collier he had killed M.P., sharing details as to what happened that had not been included in news reports. During a second interview with police, defendant again denied being involved with M.P.’s murder, and denied knowing Papillon, Smith, or Younge. Defendant, Younge, Smith, and Papillon were subsequently indicted for first degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder. On appeal, defendant argued the superior court erred by: (1) allowing an expert to testify in violation of the Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution; (2) admitting the out-of-court statements of an unavailable witness under the statement against penal interest exception to the hearsay rule; and (3) failing to take sua sponte action to address the allegedly improper statements made by the prosecutor during the State’s closing argument. Finding no reversible error, the New Hampshire Supreme Court affirmed defendant’s conviction.