Valley Cemetery rape ‘trial’ slated for Tuesday start; still unknown: judge or jury?

Sep. 19— The fate of Amuri Diole, the alleged rapist at Valley Cemetery who avoided a criminal prosecution earlier this year and now faces commitment as a sexually violent predator, will be decided by a judge or a jury, and a decision is due on that front on Monday.

Diole’s commitment hearings before Superior Court Judge Diane Nicolosi were set to begin the following day, thus this last-minute decision comes only one day before they were set to begin.

Nicolosi set the trial date only three weeks ago, causing a mad dash to prepare for the difficult case.

Nicolosi ruled Diole incapable to stand trial due to mental illness in July.

As required by the law regarding sexually violent predators, a court trial would be necessary. Defense attorneys for Diole have stated that he is the only person in New Hampshire to be committed as a sexually violent predator without ever having faced a jury.

They claim that if it happened, the pledge would be illegal.

Public counsel Kim Kossick said, “Every other person the state has attempted to commit under the (sexually violent predator) act has received the right to a jury trial.” What I mean is that he should have the same opportunities as everyone else.

However, the prosecutor in charge of the case stated that a speedy jury trial was unattainable.

“It’s a very tight timeline to schedule and start a trial,” said Shawn Sweeney, the first assistant Hillsborough County prosecutor. It’s impossible to assemble a jury before Tuesday, the judge said.

Diole’s guilt and whether or not his involvement was crucial to building a successful defense will both be questions for the jury or judge to answer during a trial, adding another layer of complexity.

The potential evidence presented in the pre-trial files includes 16 items, ranging from bloody underwear to the competence reports of three psychiatrists. There are twenty-one other names on the list who could serve as witnesses.

The deadline for Diole, 29, to be released from the Valley Street jail is September 28. This has sparked a mad dash. The savage rape of a woman in the cemetery across the street resulted in his being locked up since April 2021.

Following a finding of incompetency, the state has 90 days to commit the individual to a mental health facility. In July, Diole’s competency was ruled to be insufficient.

Incompetency to stand trial for an earlier assault conviction resulted in his release from jail, where he was raped only days later. At the time, prosecutors claimed they hadn’t been able to locate a doctor who would accept responsibility for his commitment.

Valley Cemetery rape
Valley Cemetery rape

Legal representation for Diole has also indicated that they want to assert the consent defense.

Officials have used graphic language to describe the rape.

The victim, only wearing a sweater, escaped to the safety of the police. She said authorities she was attacked for two hours straight, during which time she was sexually assaulted, her throat was slashed with a knife, and her head was slammed on granite pillars.

Kossick added that even if the judge agrees to a jury trial on Monday, no one would anticipate it to begin the following day.

Sweeney has until Monday at 10 a.m. to submit a formal objection to a jury trial. A hearing to consider the merits of each side’s case has been scheduled at 3 p.m., per Nicolosi’s order.

In addition, it appears like committing Diole as a sexually violent predator is the only option for keeping him off the streets.

Sweeney reported on Wednesday that, contrary to a court order made by Nicolosi last week, he was unable to commit Diole through a less onerous Probate Court procedure.

Nicolosi ordered that Dr. Daniel Lampignano’s mental report connected to the Probate Court endeavor be provided to the defense attorneys.

The judge also mandated that additional evidence be provided to the defense. Another possible complication brought up by her directive is the possibility that the victim was never interrogated by police following the attack.

Diole’s competency to stand trial is a point of contention between the state’s and defense’s experts. While incarcerated, he attempted to make alcohol by storing containers of pee in his cell.

The state’s expert has testified that Diole does not meet the clinical diagnosis of schizophrenia and that his acts demonstrate a purposeful effort to satisfy his craving for narcotics.

The defense’s expert, however, argued that his drug use, mental illness, persistent homelessness, trauma, unemployment, and lack of family support all contributed to his impaired rational thinking.

Sweeney first submitted commitment papers for Diole in a sealed envelope. However, unlike other judges, Nicolosi has not closed her courtroom in this case, and the New Hampshire Union Leader has intervened to ensure that all hearings and case documents will be publicly accessible.

“The processes of the Court and the involvement of the County Attorney’s Office in instances of this sort are topics (of) considerable public interest and concern,” said Katy Sullivan, who in 2007 persuaded the New Hampshire Supreme Court to allow hearings concerning sexually violent predators.

Kossick did not try to end the hearing at any point. She argued that the public needed to be informed about “how the state functions against its people.”

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