A New Hampshire jury found an admitted Manchester marijuana dealer innocent of shooting and killing a 17-year-old who was one of four males that invaded the man’s home. The four men beat him and tried to steal his cache of herb and money, reports The New Hampshire Union Leader.
Isaiah Rivera-Perez, 25, embraced his defense attorney and wept as the Hillsborough County jury announced Monday that he was innocent of second-degree murder. Given after only a few hours of deliberation, the verdict ended a five-day trial in Hillsborough County Superior Court.
The jury did find him guilty of felony reckless conduct, for shooting a gun in his Central Street neighborhood and putting residents at risk.
“I’m An Innocent Man”
Rivera-Perez’s family attended the entire trial. They cried when the verdict was read and later encircled him, taking turns embracing him. At one point, his mother fainted.
“The only message I want to send is I’m an innocent man, and I want to live my life to take care of my children and my family,” Rivera-Perez said.
His message to the family of the dead teenager: A tragedy took place two years ago and he’s not a monster.
Looking For Drugs And Money
According to testimony, Rivera-Perez was selling marijuana and Cannabis edibles out of his home at 276 Central Street.
On July 14, 2020, he let in a customer to sell him some edibles. The customer asked to use the bathroom, and then let three members of the OTB gang into the home.
One pistol-whipped Rivera. One held down his legs; another held a gun to his wife’s head. One rifled through his belongings, looking for drugs and money.
When they started to run, Rivera-Perez grabbed his gun. He said he shot at the four from his porch. He struck Jaden Connor, who ran a short distance before collapsing.
“This Is Not The Wild West”
Manchester Police Chief Allen Aldenberg was on hand for the verdict but quickly left the courtroom.
Rivera-Perez claimed self defense. But prosecutors said the law of self-defense does not allow one to shoot someone in the back as they are running away. If a person believes he is about to be attacked, the law allows self-defense.
Homicide prosecutor Peter Hinckley equated the shooting to vigilantism. He also said that video evidence and the trajectory of the bullet show that Rivera-Perez was not on the porch when he fired.
“This is not the Wild West in the 19th century; it’s not a Dirty Harry movie,” said Hinckley, a senior assistant attorney general, in closing arguments to the jury. “The law of self-defense applies whether Jaden was a full-out devil or a misguided saint.”
Hinckley said he was disappointed but respects the jury verdict.
He’s Still Looking At Up To 7 Years
The reckless conduct charge carries a penalty of 3 1/2 to 7 years. Rivera-Perez’s sentencing is September 9.
Judge Will Delker granted defense attorney Chuck Keefe’s request to allow Rivera-Perez to remain out on bail until sentencing. Rivera-Perez won’t be tracked by a monitoring bracelet.
The former pot dealer said he is still worried about possible retaliation from the OTB gang. But he and his family have moved out of Manchester, he said.
Meanwhile, he is likely to return to Hillsborough County Superior Court in the summer as a victim-witness. Armin Elezovic, who is, oddly enough, the only other person charged in the home invasion (what about the other three guys?) is expected to stand trial then.