By Melissa Proulx, Staff Writer
Gregory Potter, a former Peterborough firefighter and EMT, was found guilty by jury trial on Tuesday, Feb. 10, of five counts of arson and three counts of criminal mischief.
Each of the nearly half a dozen counts of arson come from each of the five properties that Potter set aflame in the early morning hours of Feb. 2, 2013. The crimes all occurred in Durham at 15 Main St.; 6 Main St.; 19 Main St.; 20 Main St. and 4 Park Smith Lane properties.
While a barn and apartment at the Park Smith Lane properties were destroyed as a result, the other four locations on Main Street did not see significant damage.
The three counts of criminal mischief were in connection to the damage done to the three cars at Park Smith Lane during the incident.
The trial ended after a little more than a month of hearings. Those who testified included University of New Hampshire seniors Alyssa Holland and Allison Moloney, and junior Jessica Harding.
Tod Bicknell, Ann Chamberlin and Arthur Klaeson, the three people who lived at the Smith Park Lane property, also testified in during the trial in mid-January.
In addition to the witness accounts of what had happened that night, evidence against Potter includes a towel with burn marks found near 19 Main St., according to an article in Foster’s Daily Democrat.
This towel contained the DNA evidence from both Potter and William Skantze, the friend that Potter was staying with at the time.
No one was injured or killed during the fires.
From the video shot by Kimberley Haas of Foster’s Daily Democrat, Potter was stoic, appearing to stare straight ahead for the almost two and half minutes as the charges were read.
According to Foster’s, Potter’s mother had also been in the courtroom during this time and showed little emotion herself, checking her phone shortly after the verdict was finished being read.
In the video, Potter continued to hold his head high as the handcuffs were placed around his wrists, though Foster’s reported he did show some emotion as he walked out of the room, according to Foster’s.
Potter’s lawyer, Timothy Harrington, had tried to keep Potter’s bail at $5,000 cash, but Potter will remain detained until his sentencing.
Alysia Cassotis, the deputy county attorney and prosecutor for the case, was able to accomplish this by arguing that the state requires convicted felons to be detained “unless the defense can show through clear and convincing evidence the public would not be endangered by allowing the defendant to remain free,” Foster’s reported.
According to the Foster’s article, Cassotis believed that Potter still posed a threat since it had been proven that he had set the four fires in Durham to cause damage and had ultimately destroyed the barn and attached apartments at Park Smith Lane. His crimes, she explained in the Foster’s article, had impacted the lives of 50 people.
“This is not just a crime against one person,” Cassotis was quoted saying to Mangones in the Foster’s article. “There were five separate multiunit structures set on fire.”
Philip Mangones, the presiding judge, agreed with this reasoning.
It is not known what consequences Potter will face for these charges. His plea and sentencing hearing have not yet been scheduled, according to Foster’s, and may not occur for up to 60 days.