Clegg attorneys question police evidence at hearing

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Logan Clegg, charged in the murders of Djeswende and Stephen Reid, watches proceedings at a hearing Wednesday in Merrimack County Superior Court. WMUR livestream screen image

CONCORD, NH – Police were concerned from the day they found the bodies of Djeswende and Stephen Reid on April 21, 2022, about the seeming randomness of the killings and felt more than the usual sense of urgency to find the killer, Concord Police Dept. Lt. Mark McGonagle said Wednesday.

“This was not a drug deal gone bad, not a robbery gone bad,” McGonagle testified in Merrimack County Superior Court in the first day of a hearing on motions to suppress evidence in the murder case of Logan Clegg, who is charged with murder in the Reids’ deaths.

The urgency reached a head on Oct. 11, when Concord police learned that Clegg had booked a flight for Oct. 13 out of New York City for Berlin, Germany.

Investigators, in an attempt to find Clegg before he left the country, made three exigent circumstances requests for cellphone information from Verizon on Oct. 11 and 12. An exigent circumstances request allows police to get information without a warrant if there is a pressing need to get it fast. 

“That phone number was our only means, credible means, tangible means, to track him and take him”  before the booked flight left New York City for Germany, McGonagle said.

McGonagle testified that the information from Verizon was key to finding Clegg, 27, who was arrested in Burlington, Oct. 12 on fugitive charges out of Utah. An arrest warrant for the Reids’ homicides was issued Oct. 18, and he was indicted in January.

Whether the exigent circumstances rule applied to getting the Verizon information is at the heart of the defense team’s motion to suppress evidence before Clegg’s July trial on second-degree murder charges. A hearing on those motions, filed in April prior to a hearing on motions regarding DNA testing for the case, was held Wednesday and will continue Thursday. 

Defense attorney Mariana Dominguez took McGonagle through the process of making the request and filing two more over the course of about 12 hours as police sought to find Clegg’s location in Burlington, Vermont. Her cross-examination indicated that the defense is making the case police had time to get a warrant to get the Verizon information. Dominguez, who is representing Clegg along with Caroline Smith, also worked at chipping away some other aspects of the investigation to dismantle the probable cause that led to the arrest.

McGonagle, during direct testimony questioning by Assistant Attorney General Joshua Speicher, said that as soon as the Reids bodies were found April 21, 2022, police knew “the incident was not essentially over,” because the killing was random, whoever did it was at large, and he was likely still armed.

It took months of investigation to find out who Clegg was, which they did through credit card and other information. The found out who he was in September, but they still didn’t know where he was.

Then, on Oct. 11, lead detective in the case, Danika Gorham, was contacted by Utah authorities, who told her that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security had alerted them Clegg had booked the Oct. 13 flight to Germany. Clegg was being sought in Utah on fugitive charges after he skipped out on probation following a 2020 robbery conviction.

McGonagle testified that investigators had the information about Clegg’s Oct. 13 flight booking, but it “could’ve been booked from anywhere in the country.” The phone information was need to find Clegg’s location, he said.

Exigency was supported by the fact that Clegg was leaving the country, was likely armed, the randomness of the Reids’ homicides, and that Clegg would have time to destroy evidence before getting on his flight, McGonagle said.

Concord police made three exigent requests to Verizon on Oct. 11 and Oct. 12. The three requests to Verizon were to get location ping information, numbers and RTT information, which allows police to zero in on a location. 

On cross-examination, Dominguez asked McGonagle about the turnaround time for a warrant the night of Oct. 11 to use a cell site simulator belonging to U.S. Marshal Service, which could be used to also zero in on a cellphone. McGonagle said a detective began writing the warrant request for the simulator around 6:30 p.m., and the department had a warrant in hand before midnight. 

That technology was ultimately not used in the investigation. The simulator was in Boston, and the U.S. Marshal Service would have had to bring it to where the phone was pinging.

McGonagle, meanwhile, made the Verizon exigency request at 4:41 p.m. Oct. 11, and they began getting pings on Clegg’s phone in Burlington, Vermont, about half an hour later. 

Later that night a second request was made to get numbers for texts coming in to Clegg’s phone. A third request was made the morning of Oct. 12 for RTT data, which can home in more accurately on a phone’s location.

Dominquez asked McGonagle how many warrants he’d dealt with, and he responded that the number was at least one or two hundred. He also testified, under cross-examination, that police use a web portal to submit a warrant and there’s always a judge on call to sign them when they’re needed in a hurry.

The cell site simulator warrant was submitted to be signed by a judge at 11 p.m., and police had the warrant before midnight. “There is a means of getting that warrant to a judge quickly, and in this case it took less than an hour,” Dominguez said.

McGonagle testified that Verizon has a guidebook and protocol for law enforcement to seek information for an exigent situation when there’s no warrant, and he determined Oct. 11 after they found out Clegg was leaving the country, that that was the quickest way to get his location information.

Concord Police Department Lt. Mark McGonagle, discusses the crime scene at the Broken Ground Trail System during a hearing Wednesday in Merrimack County Superior Court. WMUR livestream image

Details of the Initial Investigation

In earlier testimony McGonagle detailed the steps that led to the discovery of the Reid’s bodies, the scene investigation, and some of the investigation that led them to Clegg. 

Det. Wade Brown, a cyber investigation expert, closed out the day with similar testimony. 

Both of the detectives summarized information that’s also included in the 27-page affidavit released Jan. 30, when Clegg was arraigned on the murder charges.

The bodies of Djeswende, 66, and Stephen, 67, were found in a depression in the ground and covered with sticks and leaves about 100 feet down an incline off Marsh Loop Trail, on April 21, 2022. 

Police hadn’t found them during an initial search after the couple had been reported missing by family members April 20. Investigators found them the next day by using location information obtained with another exigency request.

While some evidence was found in the 24 hours after the Reids’ bodies were discovered, including blood on the trail and leaves and a ripped piece of fabric from Djeswende’s pants, more, including bullet casings at several places in the Broken Ground Trail System, was found weeks and months later.

Dominguez, in cross-examining McGonagle, focused on how long it took to find some of that evidence as the public continued to use the popular trail area.

She questioned whether shell casings found in May 2022 matched the bullets that killed the Reids. While the casings matched those found at an abandoned campsite in the Concord woods, and those found in Clegg’s gun after he was arrested, she and McGonagle tussled over whether they matched the bullets found in the Reids’ bodies.

McGonagle said that Dominguez’ assertion they don’t match bullet fragments found in the Reids was “ballistically correct,” but that the features of the casings matched the type of gun used in the killings, as well as one found in Clegg’s possession when he was arrested.

Later, on redirect, Speicher had McGonagle clarify that while the fragments from bullets that killed the Reids couldn’t specifically be tied to Clegg’s gun, they also couldn’t be ruled out as coming from that gun.

During a final back and forth between Dominguez, Speicher and McGonagle about ballistics semantics, Judge John Kissinger asked Dominguez what bearing the topic had on determining whether the Verizon information was exigent. 

Dominquez said that because probable cause was required, and the ballistics evidence was part of the probable cause presented by the prosecution.

Dominguez also objected during McGonagle’s morning direct testimony, when he recounted the statement a woman who’d been walking her dogs on the trail April 18, 2022, made to police in the days after the Reids were found. Nan Nutt was passed by the Reids as they entered the woods, minutes later heard five gunshots, and five minutes after that, encountered a man police believe was Clegg on the trail near where the Reids bodies were later found.

Dominguez said that McGonagle’s testimony, which was identical to that in the affidavit supporting Clegg’s arrest, didn’t match the transcript of Nutt’s interview with police. Dominguez said that allowing McGonagle to testify about Nutt’s encounter was in violation of Clegg’s confrontation rights under the constitution. Under the Sixth Amendment, the accused is allowed to confront witnesses testifying against them, and technically means that a witness can’t “testify on paper,” but must be in court and testify under oath.

Assistant Attorney General Speicher, said, however, that the testimony is for “general background” because it’s a hearing and not the actual trial, so Clegg’s confrontation right isn’t an issue. 

Kissinger overruled the objection, saying that the defense could address that in their cross-examination.

Later, on cross-examination, Dominguez drilled down on the details of what Nutt told police, including her uncertainty about getting a good look at the man on the trail. Nutt has never told police that she believes Clegg is that man, McGonagle said.

She also indicated the defense would cast doubt on the timeline, which determined there was five minutes between when Nutt heard the gunshots and when she encountered the man police believe to be Clegg on the trail. In that time, the killer would have had to kill the pair, drag them 100 feet off the trail and cover their bodies.

Brown, a cyber investigation expert with the Concord Police Department began direct testimony late in the afternoon, recounting, light McGonagle had, the first days of the crime scene investigation. His testimony is expected to continue Thursday when the hearing resumes at 10 a.m.

Mariana Dominguez, one of Logan Clegg’s defense attorneys, left, asks Concord Police Department Lt. Mark McGonagle, right, about locations on a map of the Broken Ground Trail System during a hearing in Merrimack County Superior Court Wednesday. WMUR livestream screen image

A New Indictment

Clegg was also indicted May 17 by a Merrimack County Grand Jury on a Class B Felony falsifying physical evidence charge for allegedly destroying evidence on his laptop computer on April 21, 2022, the day the Reids’ bodies were found.

The new indictment alleges that Clegg, believing that an official investigation was about to launch, “altered, destroyed, concealed, or removed anything with a purpose to impair its verity or availability in such proceeding or investigation by destroying or removing information from his laptop computer.” Clegg was previously indicted on eight charges, including two counts of second-degree murder for “knowingly causing the death” of each of the Reids, two alternative second-degree murder charges for “recklessly causing” their deaths, three counts of falsifying physical evidence and one count of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. His indictment on those charges was announced Jan. 19.

Wednesday’s hearing was not related to that indictment, but to the April defense motion to suppress evidence.

Clegg is being held without bail in Merrimack County Jail. His trial is scheduled to begin July 10 in Merrimack County Superior Court.

About this Author

Maureen Milliken

Maureen Milliken is a contract reporter and content producer for consumer financial agencies. She has worked for northern New England publications, including the New Hampshire Union Leader, for 25 years, and most recently at Mainebiz in Portland, Maine. She can be found on LinkedIn and Twitter.