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Friday, June 6, 2014

Killer is accuser in sex assault

NASHUA – A former Merrimack woman serving a 20-40 year murder sentence was sitting on the other side of a Nashua courtroom Thursday, this time the accuser in a sexual assault trial scheduled to start next week.

Molly Martel wore a prison
uniform and chains at her ankles but sat next to Assistant Hillsborough County Attorney Kent Smith while he and defense attorneys argued over whether sexual assault charges against Harvey Martel, Molly’s father, should be dismissed. ...

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NASHUA – A former Merrimack woman serving a 20-40 year murder sentence was sitting on the other side of a Nashua courtroom Thursday, this time the accuser in a sexual assault trial scheduled to start next week.

Molly Martel wore a prison
uniform and chains at her ankles but sat next to Assistant Hillsborough County Attorney Kent Smith while he and defense attorneys argued over whether sexual assault charges against Harvey Martel, Molly’s father, should be dismissed.

Hillsborough County Superior Court Judge Charles Temple rejected the motion to dismiss, and Harvey Martel’s trial will begin with opening arguments Tuesday. The case dates back to 2004 when Harvey Martel was first indicted. He is accused of assaulting Molly Martel on Nov. 14, 2002, his defense attorney, public defender Ed Cross, said Thursday.

Molly Martel, now 25, was sentenced to as many as 40 years in prison in 2012 after a jury convicted her of stabbing Stephanie Campbell in Manchester in November 2010. She was arrested two days after the murder in Kerhonkson, N.Y.

Her lawyers argued Molly Martel, once a standout pitcher on the Merrimack High School softball team, stabbed Campbell in self-defense, while prosecutors said – and jurors agreed – she stabbed Campbell in a dispute over a boyfriend.

Harvey Martel’s case has taken a long and twisting route through the court system, and his trial next week comes more than a decade after he was first charged. The trial was continued 17 times between the 2004 indictment and a prosecutor’s decision to drop the charges in 2008, Cross said.

He argued Thursday that charges should be dismissed because Harvey Martel has suffered undue “emotional and psychological impact” as a result of prosecutors dropping the charges six years ago and re-indicting him in 2012, Cross said.

“There has to be limits,” he said.

Legally speaking, while the court can’t stop a prosecutor from dropping charges, it can force them to drop them “with prejudice,” meaning they could not then be re-filed, Cross said.

He also said the 10-year period between the charges and next week’s trial is unfair to Harvey Martel because witnesses’ memories have faded and much of the testimony will be given in a “Band-Aid” fashion.

Smith, who was also the prosecutor in 2008, said he dropped the charges after Molly Martel disappeared before the trial and he was unable to find her. He said she approached him years later about re-filing the charges against her father. That process was delayed while her murder trial played out, he said.

The attorneys who represented Martel at the murder trial said a history of family sexual abuse was one of the factors that contributed to her committing the crime. They said Molly Martel’s father abused her through her early teenage years.

“She wasn’t born to be defended in a murder case,” attorney Eric Wilson told the court. “You’ve got to wonder why. What happened in the last 23 years that put Molly Martel in that chair?”

Joseph G. Cote can be reached at 594-6415 or jcote@nashua
telegraph.com. Also, follow Cote on Twitter (@Telegraph_JoeC).