2 defendants in Hanover drive-by shooting to be tried together

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 11/10/2021 6:41:06 AM
Modified: 11/10/2021 6:41:12 AM

NORTH HAVERHILL — The two men charged in the shooting of a visiting college student near the Dartmouth College campus three years ago will be tried together, according to a newly released court ruling.

Grafton Superior Court Judge Lawrence MacLeod Jr. said the trials of Gage Young, 25, and Hector Correa, 20, should be consolidated because of the “factual and evidentiary overlap” in their cases.

“Not only is there factual overlap between the defendants’ cases, but the defendants’ cases are more properly viewed as occurring together, which indicates that the cases should be joined for trial as part of the same criminal event,” MacLeod wrote in his ruling, which was released Tuesday.

Both men have pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree assault with a firearm, second-degree assault with a firearm and reckless conduct with a deadly weapon in the Nov. 2, 2018, shooting of Thomas Elliott, a Providence College student who was walking with friends on School Street in downtown Hanover while visiting a friend at Dartmouth College. Elliott was struck in the back but recovered.

The two men were arrested about 90 minutes after the shooting, off Route 10 in Lebanon, after attempting to escape from police and crashing the car they were in. Correa, who police say was driving, has been charged with reckless conduct with a deadly weapon in connection with the crash; Young has been charged with reckless conduct with a deadly weapon and falsifying physical evidence because police alleged he threw the gun that was used in the shooting from the vehicle when it crashed.

Prosecutors sought to consolidate the cases in part because the trial, now scheduled for February, involves 60 witnesses and eight experts, who otherwise would have had to testify twice.

Young’s attorney did not object as long prosecutors agreed not to introduce a statement allegedly made by Correa, who was 17 at the time, that implicated Young. Prosecutors agreed, in part to avoid a constitutional issue.

Correa’s attorney had objected to consolidating the cases, maintaining that the Hanover shooting and Lebanon crash and arrest were separate incidents. Correa is currently serving a six-year sentence out of Connecticut after being convicted of two felonies in an unrelated 2019 drive-by shooting in Bridgeport, Conn. He is being held in the Grafton County jail pending resolution of the Hanover case, while Young is out on bail and living with his parents in Lebanon.

In explaining his legal reasoning, MacLeod’s ruling noted that because the charges against the two defendants in the Hanover shooting are the same, it’s possible that each could assert that it was the other man who shot Elliott.

But because Correa’s alleged statements referencing Young will not be introduced by prosecutors, the judge said the evidence against each “will be equal.”

“This is not a case where the evidence against one defendant is so disproportionate as to implicate the other defendant,” MacLeod wrote. “Rather, this is a case where the evidence presented will be neutral as between the two defendants with respect to the Hanover-related charges and is, therefore, not prejudicial.”

Bruce Jasper, Correa’s Newport-based attorney, said Tuesday that the order to consolidate was “not unexpected.”

Grafton County Attorney Marcie Hornick declined to comment on the ruling pending the trial and said jury selection is expected to start in early February.

Young’s attorney, Richard Guerriero, said, “We’re looking forward to resolving this case at a trial in February.”

John Gregg can be reached at 603-727-3217 or jgregg@vnews.com.

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