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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Guilty plea in Nashua murder 

By DEAN SHALHOUP
Staff Writer
NASHUA - Stephan D. Peno, one of two young men charged in the 2015 murder of Nashua resident Benjamin Marcum, has agreed to plead guilty to three of the five charges against him in exchange for a prison term of 20-28 years to life, according to documents filed last week in Hillsborough County Superior Court South.
Peno, who turned 22 in August, was arrested roughly two months after Marcum, 49, died of multiple stab wounds near his Palm Street apartment the night of March 12, 2015.
The other suspect in Marcum's death, Jonathan Goff, now 18, most recently of 11 Amory St., Apt. B, was arrested within days of the incident. His case, in which he faces one count each of first-degree murder, second-degree murder, robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery, continues to move forward in court.
The most recent motion in Goff's case -- notifyng the court that he may claim self-defense at trial - was filed in August by his attorneys, public defenders Pamela Jones and Julia Nye.
Peno's plea agreement, meanwhile, will be the subject of a plea and sentencing hearing scheduled for Oct. 26 in the Nashua court.
The terms, tentatively agreed upon by his lawyer, Nashua attorney Paul Garrity, and Assistant State Attorney General Peter Hinckley, call for the sentence on the charge of accomplice to second-degree murder, a modification of the original charge of second-degree murder. It accuses him of "acting in concert with and aiding" Goff in "recklessly causing" Marcum's death.
On the charge of conspiracy to commit armed robbery, which accuses Peno of committing acts that led to "the furtherance" of a conspiracy to commit robbery, the deal calls for a prison term of 7 1/2-15 years, suspended.
And on the charge of falsifying physical evidence, Peno agreed to a prison term of two to four years, also suspended.
Those two sentences run consecutively to the sentence of 20-28 years to life, meaning that one or both could be imposed if Peno fails to meet any conditions of the agreement.
Hinckley agreed to nol pros, or drop, the remaining two charges -- second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit robbery -- the documents state.
As Peno awaits his Oct. 26 plea and sentencing hearing, Goff's lawyers notified the court that their client "may rely upon the defense of self-defense, defense of others," if and when he goes to trial.
According to Goff's case summary file, jury selection is scheduled for February, with testimony to begin March 1.
The self-defense notice, Jones and Nye wrote in their four-page notification, applies to the first-degree murder and second-degree murder charges.
According to the lawyers’ account of the events of the evening of March 12, Goff, Peno and "some other friends" were smoking marijuana and drinking beer at a friend's house when the two, along with a third friend, decided to take a walk.
Shortly into the walk, according to the documents, Peno and "a white male, later identified as Benjamin Marcum," got into an altercation on the downtown Heritage Rail Trail.
The third friend told police he heard a "scuffle" or "altercation," then saw Peno "pinned against a snowbank" by the man later identified as Marcum.
The friend said he saw the man running toward Peno, at which time Goff, according to the documents, tackled Marcum.
Goff later told police he saw Marcum "choking Peno out ... and taking him to the ground." Goff said when he "couldn't get Marcum off Peno," according to his interview with police, he told detectives "he took it upon himself to get the guy off of Peno," the documents say.
As a result "of this action by Goff, Marcum was stabbed," the attorneys wrote.
They also stated that Goff told detectives "several times" that "I didn't mean to do it," explaining, "My friend was getting choked out and I was almost hit. ... I just remember (thinking), 'You're gonna kill Stephan, you're gonna kill Stephan.' "
Goff's friends said at the time they were "shocked" and in disbelief that the teen they called "funny" and "inspirational" had been charged with such a serious crime.
Marcum's death marked his family's third loss in just a year and a half. His older brother, John P. Marcum, a retired member of Nashua Fire Rescue, died at age 65 in September 2013, and their brother Daniel P. Marcum died six months before Benjamin Marcum was killed.
Benjamin Marcum, a veteran of the U.S. Navy, had struggled with mental illness but worked hard to live a normal life and took great pride in being a member of the Marcum family, several siblings said at the time.
Marcum had been living in the Palm Square apartment complex and worked in the former Estabrook Grille until it closed.
Russell Marcum said it's possible his brother was planning to cross West Hollis Street to buy cigarettes at a nearby market at the time of the incident.
“He did that on a regular basis,” Russell Marcum said.
Dean Shalhoup can be reached at 594-6443, dshalhoup@nashuatelegraph.com or @Telegraph_DeanS.
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NASHUA - Stephan D. Peno, one of two young men charged in the 2015 murder of Nashua resident Benjamin Marcum, has agreed to plead guilty to three of the five charges against him in exchange for a prison term of 20-28 years to life, according to documents filed last week in Hillsborough County Superior Court South.
Peno, who turned 22 in August, was arrested roughly two months after Marcum, 49, died of multiple stab wounds near his Palm Street apartment the night of March 12, 2015.
The other suspect in Marcum's death, Jonathan Goff, now 18, most recently of 11 Amory St., Apt. B, was arrested within days of the incident. His case, in which he faces one count each of first-degree murder, second-degree murder, robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery, continues to move forward in court.
The most recent motion in Goff's case -- notifyng the court that he may claim self-defense at trial - was filed in August by his attorneys, public defenders Pamela Jones and Julia Nye.
Peno's plea agreement, meanwhile, will be the subject of a plea and sentencing hearing scheduled for Oct. 26 in the Nashua court.
The terms, tentatively agreed upon by his lawyer, Nashua attorney Paul Garrity, and Assistant State Attorney General Peter Hinckley, call for the sentence on the charge of accomplice to second-degree murder, a modification of the original charge of second-degree murder. It accuses him of "acting in concert with and aiding" Goff in "recklessly causing" Marcum's death.
On the charge of conspiracy to commit armed robbery, which accuses Peno of committing acts that led to "the furtherance" of a conspiracy to commit robbery, the deal calls for a prison term of 7 1/2-15 years, suspended.
And on the charge of falsifying physical evidence, Peno agreed to a prison term of two to four years, also suspended.
Those two sentences run consecutively to the sentence of 20-28 years to life, meaning that one or both could be imposed if Peno fails to meet any conditions of the agreement.
Hinckley agreed to nol pros, or drop, the remaining two charges -- second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit robbery -- the documents state.
As Peno awaits his Oct. 26 plea and sentencing hearing, Goff's lawyers notified the court that their client "may rely upon the defense of self-defense, defense of others," if and when he goes to trial.
According to Goff's case summary file, jury selection is scheduled for February, with testimony to begin March 1.
The self-defense notice, Jones and Nye wrote in their four-page notification, applies to the first-degree murder and second-degree murder charges.
According to the lawyers’ account of the events of the evening of March 12, Goff, Peno and "some other friends" were smoking marijuana and drinking beer at a friend's house when the two, along with a third friend, decided to take a walk.
Shortly into the walk, according to the documents, Peno and "a white male, later identified as Benjamin Marcum," got into an altercation on the downtown Heritage Rail Trail.
The third friend told police he heard a "scuffle" or "altercation," then saw Peno "pinned against a snowbank" by the man later identified as Marcum.
The friend said he saw the man running toward Peno, at which time Goff, according to the documents, tackled Marcum.
Goff later told police he saw Marcum "choking Peno out ... and taking him to the ground." Goff said when he "couldn't get Marcum off Peno," according to his interview with police, he told detectives "he took it upon himself to get the guy off of Peno," the documents say.
As a result "of this action by Goff, Marcum was stabbed," the attorneys wrote.
They also stated that Goff told detectives "several times" that "I didn't mean to do it," explaining, "My friend was getting choked out and I was almost hit. ... I just remember (thinking), 'You're gonna kill Stephan, you're gonna kill Stephan.' "
Goff's friends said at the time they were "shocked" and in disbelief that the teen they called "funny" and "inspirational" had been charged with such a serious crime.
Marcum's death marked his family's third loss in just a year and a half. His older brother, John P. Marcum, a retired member of Nashua Fire Rescue, died at age 65 in September 2013, and their brother Daniel P. Marcum died six months before Benjamin Marcum was killed.
Benjamin Marcum, a veteran of the U.S. Navy, had struggled with mental illness but worked hard to live a normal life and took great pride in being a member of the Marcum family, several siblings said at the time.
Marcum had been living in the Palm Square apartment complex and worked in the former Estabrook Grille until it closed.
Russell Marcum said it's possible his brother was planning to cross West Hollis Street to buy cigarettes at a nearby market at the time of the incident.
“He did that on a regular basis,” Russell Marcum said.
Dean Shalhoup can be reached at 594-6443, dshalhoup@nashuatelegraph.com or @Telegraph_DeanS.