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  • Courtesy photo

    A handout photo of Anthony Barnaby given out by the Nashua Police Department Tuesday, April 12, 2011.
Wednesday, May 25, 2011

3 who had key roles in Barnaby murder trials taking part in online forum Thursday

HUDSON – The Telegraph will host an online forum Thursday with three of the players in the 23-year-old murder trials of Anthony Barnaby.

Barnaby’s defense attorney Mark Sisti, former state Attorney General Paul Maggiotto and former Telegraph crime reporter Carolyn Magnuson will talk about their impressions of the first three failed prosecutions of the Canada native and then take questions from readers.

The forum will begin at 1 p.m. Thursday and will last about 30 minutes.

Barnaby is one of two former Nashua men who was charged with the Oct. 2, 1988, murders of Charlene Ranstrom, 48, and Brenda Warner, 32, in their apartment at 7 Mason St.

Barnaby lived on the floor beneath the two women. Co-defendant David Caplin was staying with him at the time, having arrived from Canada a few days before the murders, police said.

The men were arrested in Canada last month. The state Attorney General’s Cold Case Unit plans to bring murder charges against them in Nashua once they are extradited to the United States, police said.

Maggiotto had just joined the attorney general’s office in mid-1990 after working as an assistant county attorney in Kings County, New York. He’s now a partner at Maggiotto and Belobrow in Concord and focuses on criminal defense, personal injury and family litigation, he said.

He took over the prosecution from Brian Tucker, now a superior court judge, who prosecuted Barnaby’s first two trials. All three trials ended in hung juries.

“The problem is you have Anthony Barnaby giving a confession. I think that the defense did a fair job showing that the confession didn’t match the physical evidence at the scene,” Maggiotto said.

Maggiotto said he was “curious” about what new evidence prosecutors say they have that prompted the new charges.

In that third trial, Maggiotto was up against Sisti, who represented Barnaby in all three trials. Sisti now works as a defense attorney at Sisti Law Offices in Chichester.

After his former client’s arrest last month, Sisti said he was “unimpressed” with new DNA evidence and witness statements that prosecutors say prompted the new charges.

“This is the same case where they believed they had proof beyond a reasonable doubt three times before, and the jury disagreed with them,” Sisti said. “I liked Anthony. I thought he got a raw deal in the first place. I was very happy when the charges were (dropped).”

Magnuson covered all three of the trials during her three-year tenure at the paper. Since then she’s written for the Salem Evening News and graduated from law school. She has worked as a lawyer in Washington, D.C., since 2000. She was surprised to learn the case resurfaced after so many years.

“I think when we saw Anthony leave the jail that we hadn’t really anticipated that this would be brought forward again,” Magnuson said.

Magnuson said for the jurors who voted to acquit Barnaby, Sisti succeeded in picking apart the 22-hour interrogation, often going through the transcript line-by-line with police witnesses on the stand. It gave jurors a sense of just how long the un-taped and un-recorded interview really was.

“I didn’t expect to see it come back,” she said.

Joseph G. Cote can be reached at 594-6415 or