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Judge orders jail time for local man

NASHUA – When an off-duty Merrimack police officer happened to notice a young man allegedly exhibiting symptoms of intoxication get into a car outside a market late Sunday night, he called headquarters and asked that an officer respond.

When the on-duty officer arrived and located the car in a nearby hotel parking lot, a prosecutor said in court Tuesday, he saw a young woman get out of the car carrying several bags. When she spotted his cruiser, according to police reports, she pointed at it and said, apparently to the man, “look, there’s a cop right there.”

The suspect then allegedly began to drive away, the prosecutor said, but he didn’t get far before the officers now on the scene stopped him.

They identified the man as Philip Wetmore, 29, who has no fixed address, but most recently has been staying at a Manchester shelter, the prosecutor, Assistant County Attorney Brett Harpster, said at Wetmore’s Superior Court bail hearing Tuesday.

Wetmore allegedly “began yelling” and wasn’t cooperating with the officers, Harpster said, but perhaps most concerning was the fact he was allegedly armed with a handgun, which, Harpster said, he was carrying in a shoulder holster.

Through a records check, police learned that Wetmore is a convicted felon, having either pleaded guilty or been found guilty of several felony offenses in various New Hampshire and Massachusetts jurisdictions over the past several years.

Because convicted felons are prohibited from possessing firearms or other deadly weapons, police charged him with one count each of felon in possession of a firearm and felon in possession of a dangerous weapon, both Class B felonies.

After allegedly finding drugs on Wetmore, police added charges of possession of a controlled drug, possession of a narcotic drug, and unlawful possession of prescription drugs, also Class B felonies.

They also charged him with one count of operating after suspension, second offense, a Class A misdemeanor.

Police also spoke with the woman who was with Wetmore, Falynne St. John, 23, last known address in Raymond. They initially charged her with one count each of sale of a firearm to a felon, operating after suspension, and possession of a controlled drug.

St. John was booked on the charges and later released on personal recognizance bail. The documents in St. John’s file differed Tuesday as to the charges on which she will be arraigned, the date of which wasn’t clear in the documents.

Harpster, meanwhile, counted 19 convictions on Wetmore’s record, which dates back to 2008, when he was convicted of misdemeanor charges in Salem and Durham.

Other convictions, according to Harpster, include two separate charges of habitual offender, felony reckless conduct and drug possession, and one count each of assault and battery and unarmed robbery in Massachusetts in 2012.

Most recently, Harpster said, Wetmore was arrested Jan. 30 in Manchester for allegedly possessing heroin and fentanyl, and for felon in possession of a deadly weapon – metallic knuckles.

The case is one of two pending in Hillsborough County Superior Court-North, Harpster said.

Nashua Attorney Justin Shepherd, who represented Wetmore at Tuesday’s hearing, said allegations contained in the police reports raise numerous “suppression issues” even at this early juncture in the case.

Noting that Wetmore has been staying recently at a Manchester shelter, Shepherd said he has no record of failing to appear in the Nashua court.

He asked Judge William Delker for bail conditions that would allow Wetmore “to seek long-term treatment.”

Harpster countered that if Wetmore’s charges were all drug-related, “I would be more willing” to consider bail conditions that allowed Wetmore to seek treatment.

Delker granted Harpster’s request for preventive detention, citing Wetmore’s history of numerous arrests and convictions and the “very serious” nature of the allegations that Wetmore was in possession of both drugs and a handgun.

Dean Shalhoup may be reached at 594-1256, or at dshalhoup@nashuatelegraph.com.

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