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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Defense attorneys will interview accused Nashua murderer’s former cellmate

NASHUA – Attorneys
for accused murderer Matthew Packer will question his former cellmate, who talked to police last fall, according to court records.

A motion to depose Robert Ryan has been granted by Hillsborough County Superior Court Judge Diane Nicolosi. The state had opposed the defense’s request. With Nicolosi’s ruling, a hearing scheduled on the motion for later this month has been canceled, according to court records. ...

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NASHUA – Attorneys
for accused murderer Matthew Packer will question his former cellmate, who talked to police last fall, according to court records.

A motion to depose Robert Ryan has been granted by Hillsborough County Superior Court Judge Diane Nicolosi. The state had opposed the defense’s request. With Nicolosi’s ruling, a hearing scheduled on the motion for later this month has been canceled, according to court records.

Packer, of Nashua, is accused of fatally stabbing Paul Frontiero on Oct. 9, 2011. He’s also charged with trying to kill Nashua resident Kathryn Libby and assaulting Frontiero’s roommate, Jill Arnold, according to court documents.

Packer’s former cellmate, Ryan, described to police a conversation he and Packer had in July and August of 2012, according to court records.

Ryan was freed Aug. 7 but arrested on a warrant for larceny Sept. 22, according to court records.

While being held, Ryan told police he wanted to provide information about Packer, according to the records.

Prosecutors provided the defense 105 pages describing Ryan’s conversation with police, according to the defense’s motion.

By deposing Ryan, the defense intends to ask “questions concerning Mr. Ryan’s criminal history, which is relevant to his motive to cooperate with the police,” according to the motion.

The defense also will ask Ryan about his relationship with Nashua police, which the defense contends is relevant to his credibility. Further, in the disposition, the defense will ask Ryan about his disciplinarian records at the jail, how he developed rapport with Packer and his state of mind when he spoke to Nashua police, according to court documents.

“The primary issue in this case will be Mr. Packer’s mental state at the time of the alleged incident,” the defense stated in its motion.

Prosecutors from the state attorney general’s office are seeking to convict Packer of first-degree murder. His public defenders, Julia Nye and Caroline Smith, have notified the court Packer may pursue an insanity defense.

The stabbing happened outside a 13 Spruce St. duplex where Frontiero and Arnold lived. Arnold told The Telegraph she was walking outside the apartment with a friend, who shouted an innocent remark at a passing vehicle, which immediately turned around.

A man, whom police later identified as Packer, got out of the passenger seat shouting and eventually pulling a knife.

Witnesses said Frontiero, 27, heroically came to the women’s aid when Packer held a knife to the throat of Arnold, 29.

Libby received life-threatening stab wounds and Arnold was less severely injured, according to court documents.

Packer told police a number of people rushed at him outside the house, that he was punched by someone and that he acted in self-defense.

Patrick Meighan can be reached at 594-6518 or pmeighan@nashua
telegraph.com. Follow Meighan on Twitter @ Telegraph_PatM.