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Jury finds man not guilty of branding former wife

Telegraph photo by DEAN SHALHOUP Blake Colella, left, and his attorney, Charles Keefe, listen to a sexual-assault nurse testify Thursday during Colella’s assault trial. The jury returned not guilty verdicts on most of the charges filed against Colella.

NASHUA – A Superior Court jury Friday returned not guilty verdicts on felony assault, criminal threatening and animal cruelty charges in the trial of Blake Colella, the Massachusetts man accused of striking, strangling and cutting his now ex-wife in April 2017.

Jurors convicted Colella on the remaining charge – tampering with witnesses or informants – which accuses him of trying to induce the victim to not testify against him. He will be sentenced on that charge at a later date.

The verdicts were announced shortly after noon on Friday, after the jury had deliberated for roughly five hours through two days.

Colella had faced two counts each of first-degree assault – domestic violence; second-degree assault – domestic violence; criminal threatening – domestic violence; and cruelty to animals, along with one count of tampering with witnesses or informants, which accused him of “purposely inducing the alleged victim to withhold testimony” through text messages stating, “my lawyer will eat you alive … all your secrets will come out … I know everything about you,” according to the indictments.

The assault, threatening and animal cruelty charges accused Colella of squeezing the woman’s neck and impeding her ability to breathe, holding a knife to her neck and face area “immediately after threatening to ‘cave her face in,'” carving letters into her back, and mistreating by kicking and threatening to kill a cat.

During the trial, Colella’s attorney, Charles Keefe, insisted that too many of the alleged victim’s written and verbal statements contain inconsistencies that cannot be explained away as simple lapses of memory over a couple of minute details.

Among the holes Keefe sought to punch in the woman’s statements and testimony was the fact police who interviewed her when she reported the alleged assaults “noted not one single mark on her neck,” although she has claimed throughout that Colella strangled her to the point she couldn’t breathe.

But the next day, when the alleged victim went to the hospital, “what do you know? She has redness, very bright on one side,” on her neck, Keefe said.

What do you think happens in between talking to police and going to the hospital?” Keefe asked, rhetorically.

The 37-year-old Colella’s last known address is in Lynn, Massachusetts. He and the alleged victim married in 2015 and divorced in May 2018, according to her Wednesday testimony.