Salem man guilty in fatal shooting outside The Goat

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Defendant John Delee, left, with Defense Attorney Patrick Colvario last week on the final day of court. File Photo/Jeffrey Hastings

MANCHESTER, NH – John Delee, the Salem man accused in the shooting death of Timothy Pouliot last January outside a downtown bar, was found guilty of his murder on Monday by a Hillsborough County Superior Court North jury.

The jury deliberated a little over an hour over two days; about 30 minutes on Friday afternoon and 45 minutes Monday, before returning guilty verdicts on two alternative counts of second-degree murder and one charge of reckless conduct.

About 1 a.m. on Jan. 28, 2023, Delee, 23, was punched in the face by Pouliot, 24, of Manchester.  Delee immediately pulled his Glock pistol from his waistband, pointed it at Pouliot and fired nine shots. Pouliot was struck by eight of the bullets, five that hit him in the back.  He bled out on Old Granite Street, dying outside The Goat Bar and Grill.

Prosecutors maintained Delee was a bully determined to use his gun that night and who executed Pouliot after he punched him in the face.

Defense attorneys contended Delee acted in self-defense, that he believed Pouliot and his friends were professional mixed martial arts fighters who intended to knock him out.  It was three-on-one, they said.

Earlier in the evening, inside the bar, one of Pouliot’s friends had scuffled with Delee, whose face was cut in the incident.

Assistant Attorney General Scott D. Chase, in his closing argument, said Pouliot didn’t fear Delee, a slight man who weighed 121 pounds and was 5-foot-7.  Pouliot was 6-foot-7 and weighed 350 pounds, nearly three times as much as Delee.

 “This man was a bully,” Chase said.  “A tough guy taking on a little guy.”

As Delee was led from the courtroom one of his supporters called out, “You are still alive, buddy; there is light at the end of the tunnel,” which drew visible emotion from Delee.

After the verdict was announced, Chase thanked the jury for their “dedication to the facts.”  

What happened that night was captured on video, from the time of an initial confrontation between Delee and Pouliot inside the bar, to when Pouliot punched Delee in the head and Delee, in turn, pulled out his Glock pistol and shot him.

Chase said Delee, standing 15-feet away from where Pouliot laid wounded on Old Granite Street, told one of Pouliot’s friends, “Come get your boy.  He’s bleeding out,” Chase said.  “That was the extent of his remorse.”

A witness recorded the murder on his cell phone.   That recording, along with all the footage recorded on surveillance video inside and outside the bar, was played for the jury.

The shooting followed several incidents involving Delee, Pouliot and Pouliot’s friends, Michael Mendoza, 40, and Trenton Nash, 22, inside and outside the bar.

Defense Attorney Patrick Colvario said that what happened was “a tragedy but it is not murder.”  He said Delee was alone when confronted by three men – Pouliot and his two friends.  One of them, Michael Mendoza, had sucker punched him earlier in the night.

Then, outside the bar, Pouliot punched him again in the head and Delee shot him.

The sequence of events began inside the bar when Delee saw Pouliot talking to his former girlfriend, Abigail Elliott-Orr, on the dance floor.

Delee approached him and called him “scum.”  That interaction ended with Pouliot laughing it off and shaking Delee’s hand.

Pouliot then went to the bar.  Elliott-Orr and her friends also went to the bar and overheard Pouliot and Mendoza talking about how they were professional fighters and could knock out Delee.

Elliott-Orr and her friends went back to Delee and told him what Pouliot and Mendoza had said. 

Delee confronted Pouliot, shoved him twice and a special detail police officer and bouncers stepped in.  

Delee went back to the dance floor but he saw Pouliot whisper something in Mendoza’s ear after which Mendoza took a swing at Delee.  

The two fell to the floor in a scuffle and ultimately were escorted out of the bar. Delee contends his face was cut by the “big rings” Mendoza was wearing.

“The punch heard round the world,” Chase told the jury.  During his closing statement, he replayed footage of the incident, as captured by the bar’s surveillance video.  The recording shows Mendoza took a swing at Delee but missed, Chase said, before the two tumbled to the floor.

As he was led out by bouncers, Delee screamed and swore, “Who punched me in the face? Come fight me.  Come fight me.”

Delee raged outside on the sidewalk, still looking for a fight.  “Fuck you.  Who punched me?  Why?” he screamed.

Mendoza was kicked out of the bar as well and Trenton Nash followed him out to Mendoza’s car. Pouliot left the bar soon after 

In the meantime, Delee’s friends tried to calm him down but Delee became more agitated. 

Nash got out of his car and tried to talk to Delee and, Nash testified, Delee punched him and then reached to shake his hand and punched him again

Mendoza then got out of the car and, standing on a snowbank, pulled out pepper spray and pointed it at Delee.

Delee, in turn, pulled out his handgun, dropped it and picked it up again.

“He said if I sprayed him he’d shoot me,” Mendoza testified.

Delee and his friends, and Pouliot and his friends, continued to exchange words from a distance.  The Delee party went down an alley leading toward the lot at Market Basket where Delee had parked 

Delee, however, resisted and turned around, heading back to Old Granite Street. Alone, he was met by Mendoza, Nash and Pouliot.

 “Timmy gave the defendant the excuse he needed,” Assistant New Hampshire Attorney General Rachel Harrington said in her opening statement. “He went up and punched the defendant in the face.”

Immediately, Delee fired his Glock pistol.

 After the shooting, Delee turned around and walked away, leaving “Timmy to bleed out and die,” prosecutors said.

 Sentencing is expected to take place in March.  A second-degree murder conviction carries a sentence of up to life in prison.


 

About this Author

Pat Grossmith

Pat Grossmith is a freelance reporter.