Judge approves DNA tests in Clegg case, despite potentially high price tag

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clegg led in wmur screen grab
Logan Clegg is led into Merrimack County Superior Court Friday for a motions hearing. Clegg is charged with two counts of second-degree murder in the April 2022 homicides of Djeswende and Stephen Reid, of Concord. (WMUR-TV livestream screen image)

CONCORD, NH – DNA testing leading up to Logan Clegg’s July murder trial could cost the state $90,000 or more, but it’s a necessary bill if he’s to get a proper defense and the trial is to stay on track for July, the judge in the case said Friday.

Merrimack County Superior Court Judge John Kissinger Friday approved an order for the testing. The prosecution’s portion is an estimated $30,000; the cost of the public defender’s DNA expert observing the testing could be twice that. Both bills are paid by the state.

Prosecutors at the hearing said the amounts are estimates, and could come in much lower once the testing is done.

Clegg, 27, is charged with two counts of second-degree murder for the homicides of Djeswende and Stephen Reid, of Concord, who were found shot to death in the Broken Ground trail system near their Loudon Road apartment. Their bodies were found a year ago, on April 21, 2022. Police believe the couple was shot April 18, 2022, while they were out for a walk.

Clegg, looking pale and thin, sat stock-still, staring straight ahead through most of the 20-minute hearing.

Danielle Sakowski, of the New Hampshire attorney general’s office, told Kissinger that the high price tag for the testing was because of the short timeline until the trial and the capabilities of available labs, which both limited the state’s options. The type of testing on the 31 samples needed for the case isn’t something that the state’s lab can do, and there were other labs that could but wouldn’t be able to in time for the July trial, she said. 

Sakowski said that the observation element of the testing is “a hardship” for the lab, necessitating the high cost. She also said that the cost is an estimate, and may not end up being as high.

smith confers with Clegg
Public defender Caroline Smith confers with Logan Clegg before Friday’s hearing on several motions in his case. Clegg is charged with two counts of second-degree murder in the April 2022 homicides of Djeswende and Stephen Reid, of Concord. (WMUR-TV livestream screen image)

Caroline L. Smith, Clegg’s defense attorney, said that she wanted to make sure that the testing, its observation, and preservation, are all correctly done. Initially, prosecutors told her that the defense expert would not be allowed to observe, but later acquiesced when they found out it was allowed by law.

Smith said that the AG’s office in March sent an invoice that showed the cost for the tests at $58,965, and the observation another $61,485, a cost she said was “absurd,” given the expert would be watching on Zoom.

She said that in other cases, the cost of the expert observing hasn’t been close to that. “The amount seems very very off for observing,” she said. “I’m not guardian of the funds, but I was very much taken aback.”

She’d asked the prosecution for an emailed explanation of the cost, but hadn’t received one, so she asked for the hearing so there could be some oversight of why the cost was so high.

Sakwoski said at the hearing that the testing cost is now closer to $30,000.

Kissinger said that, ideally, he’d have someone from the lab come to court and explain the costs, but there wasn’t time. He also agreed that it’s important for the defense expert to observe the testing.

The defense had also filed motions to suppress some evidence, including some related to cell phones. Kissinger set a hearing on those motions for 10 a.m. May 24 and 25. Clegg’s trial is set for July 11 in Merrimack County Superior Court.


 

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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.