CHARLESTOWN, NH – The Charlestown man convicted of murdering his wife on the day she filed for divorce may soon get to see the $25,000 in receipts for restitution expenses he’s been ordered to pay, including funeral expenses and therapy for his adult daughters.
James Robarge, 51, is serving a 30 years to life prison term for the 2013 murder of his wife, Kelly Robarge. Kelly Robarge went missing from her Charlestown home on June 27, 2013, and her badly decomposed body was found in the woods in Unity 10 days later, according to court records.
Her head and hands had been separated from the rest of her body. The day she disappeared, Kelly Robarge had been babysitting her then 1-year-old grandson, taking him with her when she went to Newport to file for divorce.
One of her daughters reported her missing after James Robarge told his daughter he had arrived at the home that afternoon to find his 1-year-old grandson alone, sitting on the couch and crying. Police reportedly found blood evidence in the home indicating Kelly Robarge was murdered there, and her body later moved to the woods.
As part of his sentence, James Robarge was ordered to pay $25,000 in restitution to cover costs associated with his crime. That includes funeral expenses, therapy for his adult daughters, lost wages, and other money spent. In an unprecedented move last year, Robarge challenged the restitution amount, claiming he should be able to see what he is paying for.
Robarge wants to see the receipts and other records used to determine the restitution amount, and he is asking to have the records sent to him in prison. Now, Sullivan Superior Court Judge Brain Tucker is ordering New Hampshire Department of Corrections officials to weigh in on the plan to have Robarge read the documents, but not keep them.
In an order filed in court this month, Tucker wrote that prosecutors are worried Robarge may attempt to make copies of the documents and share them with other inmates, or with people outside prison. Though sensitive information has been redacted from the documents, the state maintains these are not public records to be copied or shared.
Robarge argues that though his attorney has access to the records and can share the information with him, he is unable to see his attorney, in part because of the COVID-19 restrictions in place at the state prison in Berlin.
Tucker is proposing to send the documents to prison officials who will allow Robarge to read them in a private setting before handing them back to the prison staff. Prison staff will now tell Tucker if this is a feasible plan.
Robarge’s restitution bill came from the New Hampshire Crime Victims Compensation Program. Tucker ruled last year that the state had not yet not shown enough evidence to support the total figure, and asked to see all the documents before they would be redacted. Prosecutors have argued that many of the payment records include protected health information, such as the mental health treatment for Robarge’s family members.
Under New Hampshire’s restitution system, the Commission pays out the expenses to the victims, and then bills the perpetrator. Robarge earns $3 a day working at the New Hampshire State Prison. Based on what he owes, it will take him nearly 23 years to pay his financial obligations.
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