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Some Charges Dropped In Sniper Trial

February 7, 1989

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) _ A judge on Tuesday dropped six of 35 charges against the man on trial in the Blackstone Valley sniper case, rejecting prosecution arguments that all the charges were brought in good faith.

Closing arguments were scheduled Wednesday in the trial of Peter T. Trepanier, who is charged in a series of sniping attacks in December 1986 and January 1987, and a series of burglaries and house fires from April to June 1987. No one was killed. Defense attorneys said they would call no witnesses.

The charges dismissed by Superior Court Judge Dominic F. Cresto involved the Dec. 11, 1987, shooting of Michael L. Clerc, a Woonsocket truck driver whose truck was attacked in North Smithfield, and a June 1, 1987, break-in at the Glocester home of Muriel Winsor.

″It isn’t like we didn’t have the evidence to bring the charges,″ prosecutor Eva Marie Mancuso said. ″We’ve sill got six assaults with intent to commit murder and three first-degree arsons that carry a life sentence.″

Cresto said the Clerc shooting was not similar to the other six sniping attacks with which Trepanier is charged and said no evidence of a bullet or shell casings was discovered.

The judge said there was no evidence that Trepanier was involved in the Winsor break-in, but said a jury should decide whether Trepanier is guilty of setting a fire at the Winsor house and two in Burrillville because of similarities among the blazes.

The trial started Jan. 27. It had been expected to last six weeks, but Mancuso, who presented more than 40 witnesses, said it moved more quickly than expected because of a lack of cross-examination by defense attorneys.

Trepanier, 25, originally was charged with seven counts of assault with intent to commit murder and seven counts of conspiracy to commit murder in connection with the sniping attacks n Cumberland and North Smithfield and burglaries and house fires in Burrillville and Glocester.

Cresto said there was not enough evidence for counts of conspiracy to commit murder, assault with intent to commit murder, conspiracy to enter a house, entering a house with intent to commit larceny, malicious mischief and firing a weapon in a compact area.

Russell Ducharme, 24, a high school classmate, faces virtually the same charges and will be tried later.

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