Judge denies prisoner’s request for early release to use medical marijuana for bum hip

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NEWPORT, NH — The Newport man who pleaded guilty to accidentally shooting a toddler and who wanted an early release from jail so that he could use medical marijuana is staying put.

Timothy Hale/Newport PD

Timothy Hale’s motion for an early release from the Sullivan County House of Corrections was recently denied by Sullivan Superior Court Judge Brown Tucker, despite Hale’s claim that he needs to use marijuana and CDB oil to treat pain from a bad hip.

Hale, 51, was sentenced to 1½-to-5 years behind bars in January after pleading guilty to one count of felony reckless conduct for the shooting that left the little girl in the upstairs apartment with a gunshot wound to her leg. Sullivan County Attorney Marc Hathaway said the original sentence in the case, part of a plea agreement, allowed Hale to have all but six months of the sentence suspended.

“The parents of the child were very supportive of Mr. Hale’s relatively lenient sentence, but they did not support that he be released,” Hathaway said.

The girl’s family did not respond to a request for comment. Hathaway said that the parents feel Hale needs to serve the time in jail.

“They felt they were more than fair to him,” Hathway said. “They feel that justice requires that he complete his sentence.”

Hale claimed that his hip pain could not be treated behind bars, as he is not able to use marijuana or CBD products in the jail. Hale was seeking a release to home confinement.

“Mr. Hale had an interesting point of view,” Hathaway said.

During a hearing on his request, Tucker notes that the jail staff were responsive and tried to work with Hale on his medical issues.

“Testimony also established, however, that corrections officials are responsive and have tried various remedies, though the defendant has been resistant to some (e.g., for instance, rejecting Tylenol as recommended,)” Tucker wrote in his order denying Hale’s request.

Tucker further noted in his order that if he were released to home confident for completion of his six-month sentence, Hale would remain under supervision by the Sullivan County House of Corrections. As such, he would not be permitted to use marijuana or CDB products while on home confinement, Tucker wrote.

Hale also raised the issue of the COVID-19 pandemic as a reason for a need for early release. Hale claims that his hip condition leaves him vulnerable to the potentially deadly illness. Hathaway said that the jail staff takes the pandemic quite seriously and that everyone entering the facility, whether jail staff or inmate, undergoes a rigorous medical screening, including temperature checks for staff when they start their shifts. The facilities also undergo daily cleaning and disinfecting, Hathaway said.

“There is almost no place safer,” Hathaway said

Hale was arrested last year after he fired a shotgun in his first floor Laurel Street apartment. The blast left the then two-year-child with a gash-type wound to her leg, though she has since recovered.

Police reportedly found Hale shirtless and intoxicated when they responded to the 911 call on the night of April 14. He initially told officers he thought there was an intruder in his apartment. Instead of any intruder, police found loaded guns throughout the apartment, as well as many empty beer cans.

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Damien Fisher

Damien Fisher is a freelance reporter and runs NHReporter.com