BRENTWOOD, N.H. — Prosecutors yesterday worked to prove that a spent bullet casing found near the home of a town official came from his gun, the one police say he fired during a party at his home in 2010.
Albert "Max" Abramson, 35, of 14 Charles Henry Way, Seabrook, faces a jury in Rockingham Superior Court before Judge William Delker. Abramson is charged with eight counts of felony reckless conduct in an incident that took place around 3 a.m. on Dec. 19, 2010. Prosecutors and Seabrook police say that at that time, Abramson fired his Glock handgun recklessly during a party at his home.
Abramson, a member of the Seabrook Budget Committee, was arrested following a report of gunfire on Charles Henry Way and charged by Seabrook police with one count each of unauthorized use of firearms, felony reckless conduct and prohibited sales of alcohol to under-aged individuals. However, after the review of the case by prosecutors in the office of the Rockingham County Attorney, he was indicted on eight counts of felony reckless conduct, one for each individual believed to be present at the time of the gunfire.
Although not admitting to firing the handgun, Abramson, when arrested, defended his actions as simply trying to stop a fight.
The case has been controversial in Seabrook, as Abramson is an elected official. In addition, since his arrest, Abramson has openly found fault with the Seabrook Police Department, claiming at one point that the case against him was "political."
Since being arrested, Abramson has been part of a movement to create a Seabrook Police Commission that would take supervision of the department away from the town manager and selectmen. And at February's Deliberative Town Meeting, Abramson moved to zero-out the police department's budget, eliminating the department altogether and replacing it with Rockingham County Sheriff's officers. The motion was defeated by a large margin of those present.
Assistant County Attorney Patricia Conway called three members of the team of officers from the Seabrook Police Department to the stand yesterday, all of whom responded to the 911 call that reported shots fired early that morning. Sgt. David Bucchieri and officers Jeremy Tetreault and David Hersey stated that the first call of shots fired came about 3 a.m., and the cellphone call was triangulated as coming from an area near Seabrook Town Hall.
Shortly thereafter, a second call came in reporting a fight at 14 Charles Henry Way.
As five Seabrook police officers sped to the area, a third call came in reporting that the suspect who had fired the shots had fled the scene in a dark-colored jeep. Bucchieri encountered the jeep not far from Charles Henry Way, a dead-end street off Folly Mill Road.
Bucchieri and Tetreault and Sgt. Robert Granlund as backup approached the jeep with their weapons drawn. They found Abramson driving and two passengers in the car. Tetreault disarmed Abramson, who was carrying a loaded Glock pistol in a holster on his hip. The gun had a partially full magazine, with a live round in its firing chamber. Abramson was left under the supervision of a New Hampshire state trooper and Salisbury police officer Dan McNeil, both of whom responded for mutual aid. Abramson's passengers were also left in their care.
Bucchieri, Granlund and Tetreault then joined Hersey and former Seabrook officer Kevin Gelineau at Charles Henry Way, where they approached the home with guns drawn, believing there could still be an armed person in the home. Police had also called for Seabrook Fire Department to bring an ambulance, fearing there could be a person or persons injured by the gunfire.
At the scene, they found no one armed or injured. But they found a number of individuals, some of whom had been drinking, and the one they believed made the 911 call alerting police to gunfire.
Police entered the home and found evidence of drinking, as well as blood spatter and smudges on the floor of the home's basement. In addition, Hersey found a spent gun casing in the yard of the home, directly outside the basement's sliding door.
Abramson, who is representing himself, cross-examined the officers, repeatedly asking if any had found a knife in their search of the home. All denied finding a knife, but Hersey said he'd found an ax outside in the street before he entered the home.
Abramson also peppered officers with questions concerning the quality of the camera used to take the evidence photos.
Conway next called criminologist Mark Dupre to the stand. A 17-year veteran of the State Police Crime Lab, Dupre confirmed that the spent shell found the night of the incident matched the markings of three other bullets fired from Abramson's gun. Abramson spent more than half an hour cross-examining Dupre, attempting to cast doubt on the reliability of forensic evidence in ballistic matches.
Abramson said yesterday that he is pleased with the way the trial is proceeding. He is expected to mount his defense tomorrow.
Abramson is assisted by James Godbout, standby counsel from the state public defender's office, appointed by the court to help Abramson if needed.
On Monday, the first day of trial, the jury was chosen and then taken to Abramson's house to view the scene.
According to state law, the charge of reckless conduct is a class B felony and, should he be convicted, Abramson could face a sentence of three and a half to seven years in prison and a $4,000 fine for each charge. In addition, if convicted of a felony, Abramson would no longer be allowed to own guns. At the time of the incident, Abramson had a gun carry permit, but he surrendered it as a condition of bail.