Guilty plea in Grafton road rage shooting results in no further jail time

By JOHN LIPPMAN

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 08-16-2023 10:08 PM

NORTH HAVERHILL — A former Grafton man who shot another man in the abdomen during a “road rage” encounter in 2019 has pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges but will not spend any more time behind bars.

Joseph A. Brown, who now resides in Maine, pleaded guilty to one charge of simple assault and one charge of reckless conduct, both misdemeanors, in Grafton County Superior Court on Aug. 11, according to state court records. The charges were significantly reduced in both number and severity from the initial eight charges — many of them felonies with enhanced penalties — that he originally faced.

Brown avoided further jail time after receiving credit for the more than two years he was held in pre-trial confinement before being released on bail.

The plea deal and sentencing bring to a close the more than four-year prosecution against Brown and one of the thickest dockets currently in Grafton County criminal court as Brown, 43, switched lawyers and defense and prosecution attorneys filed hundreds of motions, pleadings and responses, all while more than half a dozen dates to select a jury for trial were canceled and reset.

Brown was accused of shooting then-46-year-old Jason Marandos on Route 4 near Lower Meadow Road in Grafton on April 29, 2019, following a roadside confrontation that started when Brown was allegedly tailgating Marandos and attempted to pass him, then hit the brakes, resulting in a minor collision.

Both Brown and Marandos, also of Grafton, got out of their vehicles and into a scuffle along the side of the road, during which Marandos allegedly punched Brown. Brown in response drew a handgun from his pants and shot Marandos in the abdomen.

Accompanying Marandos in his vehicle was his wife and their son.

Brown has always maintained he fired his gun in defense of himself and his three children, who were also in his car traveling with him.

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Marandos, a special education teacher, survived the gunshot wound.

Grafton County Attorney Marcie Hornick, whose office led the prosecution of Brown, said the outcome of the case from the state’s point of view is less than the ideal but pointed out that the plea agreement prohibits Brown from possessing any firearms for five years in New Hampshire. He also must attend firearm safety and driver’s education courses within 120 days in addition to the typical conditions imposed on guilty parties such as good behavior and completion of counseling programs.

Brown also is forbidden to have any contact with Marandos and his family members.

“The Mirandos family has had to wait an interminable amount of time to get this over with. They just want to move on with their lives and not have to think about it again,” Hornick said Wednesday.

“They are a wonderful, loving family, and the only thing they did that day was drive a couple miles per hour on the road near this house, and (Brown) could have passed them and keep going. But he didn’t.”

Although Brown served more than 2½ years in jail before being released on bail, Hornick acknowledged nonetheless, “I don’t think anyone is really happy with the outcome of this case.”

Kevin O’Keefe, a Portsmouth, N.H., criminal defense attorney who represented Brown, did not return messages seeking comment Wednesday.

Contact John Lippman at jlippman@vnews.com.