Gun evidence is focus at the trial of a man accused of killing New Hampshire couple on hiking trail

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A man charged with shooting a New Hampshire couple to death on a hiking trail last year spent months hiding from police — but over a probation violation from Utah, not the killings — and an analysis of shell casings and bullets found in the area could not conclude that his gun fired the shots, his attorney said at the start of his trial Tuesday.

“They got the wrong man,” Caroline Smith said during opening statements in the trial of Logan Clegg in Concord. She said he had no connection to the couple and was not the killer.

Clegg, 27, who was living in a tent near the trail at the time, is charged with second-degree murder counts of knowingly and recklessly causing the deaths of Stephen and Djeswende Reid by shooting them multiple times.

The newly retired couple were killed shortly after going for a walk on the trail near their Concord apartment on April 18, 2022. Their bodies, found several days later, were dragged into the woods and covered with leaves, sticks and debris, police said. Jurors planned to visit the apartment complex and trail area on Tuesday afternoon.

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Clegg also is charged with several counts of falsifying physical evidence and being a convicted felon in possession of a gun. He pleaded not guilty following his arrest last October in South Burlington, Vermont, initially on a fugitive from justice charge.

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Lawyers said Clegg was on probation in 2021 on burglary and larceny offenses in Utah. Smith said he had gone to Portugal, and eventually came back to the United States, staying in Concord.

After the Reids were reported missing, Clegg, who was questioned by investigators searching for them, burned his tent, erased information from his computer and bought a bus ticket out of Concord, prosecutor Meghan Hagaman told jurors. Investigators eventually found him in South Burlington with a one-way plane ticket to Berlin, Germany, a fake passport, and a gun in his backpack.

“When he couldn’t run or hide, he lied,” Hagaman said in her opening statement in Merrimack County Superior Court. Clegg said he wasn’t in Concord that April 18, hadn’t heard of the different name he gave police when first questioned, and didn’t have a gun at the time.

Hagaman said that shell casings and bullet fragments were later found at the crime scene. Shell casings also were found at a location later discovered to be Clegg’s tent site. She said jurors will learn that bullets fired from Clegg’s 9 mm handgun were consistent in caliber and class characteristics as bullet fragments found during the Reids’ autopsies.

She said a state police forensic laboratory analysis showed the casings were fired from Clegg’s gun. But Smith drew attention to two casings that were found at the crime scene in plain view a month after the area had been heavily searched, suggesting that someone had put them there. She said a criminologist could not say that Clegg’s gun was the one used to fire the shots. Smith also said that DNA testing on items that the killer might have touched suggests “two foreign contributors in those areas — not the Reids, and not Logan.”

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Both lawyers also gave differing accounts of a woman who was walking on the trail with her dogs and allowed the Reids to pass her and walk ahead. She later heard gunshots, then came across a man on the trail before continuing her hike. Smith said that Clegg was shopping at a supermarket at the time. She said that items and clothing he had did not match the prosecution’s description.

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