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Lawyer: Kidnapping, sex assault suspect aims to represent himself in federal case

  • This undated identification photo released Monday, Jan. 7, 2019, by the Vermont State Police shows Everett Simpson, 41, apprehended in Pennsylvania after a car chase on Sunday. Police said Simpson is suspected in the Saturday abduction of a woman and her child outside the Mall of New Hampshire in Manchester, N.H., and then drove them to Vermont. (Vermont State Police via AP)

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 5/12/2021 9:47:45 PM
Modified: 5/12/2021 9:47:43 PM

BURLINGTON — A 43-year-old felon accused of kidnapping a woman in Manchester and sexually assaulting her in White River Junction is seeking to represent himself in federal court after parting ways with six different attorneys over the last two years.

An attorney for Everett Simpson filed a motion on his behalf in U.S. District Court in Burlington this month, asking to be dropped from the case and for a court to let Simpson act as his own attorney going forward.

Simpson is facing two federal kidnapping charges and one federal charge of transportation of a stolen vehicle connected to a January 2019 incident when he allegedly kidnapped a Merrimack County woman and her 4-year-old son outside of the Mall of New Hampshire in Manchester and drove them across state lines, police have said.

Simpson, who is being held at the Essex County jail in New York, is also accused of taking the woman to the Comfort Inn in White River Junction and raping her at the hotel. Windsor County prosecutors have said the sexual assault charges will be handled in the Windsor Superior Court following the completion of his federal case.

In an affidavit filed alongside the motion this month, Simpson’s attorney, New York-based lawyer Lawrence Elmen, wrote that he was admitted to the federal bar in Vermont in February, in part to represent Simpson in this case. However, on April 29, he received a letter from Simpson that read “Your (sic) fired. Open (ASAP).”

“It is my understanding that Mr. Simpson believes he has ‘fired’ me as his court-appointed legal counsel.” Elmen wrote in the affidavit. He added that a “secondary issue” arose between him and Simpson, which could be a conflict of interest, though he did not say what the issue was in the affidavit.

Messages to Elmen seeking clarification and comment on Simpson’s decision were not returned Wednesday.

Elmen is the seventh attorney who has represented Simpson since federal prosecutors brought charges against him in January 2019.

His original attorney, federal public defender David McColgin, argued in December 2019 that Simpson’s encounter with the woman was consensual. A judge allowed Simpson’s defense attorneys to view the woman’s cellphone records under supervision of FBI employees. Simpson himself was not allowed access to the data.

The following month, Simpson requested that his original attorneys, including McColgin, be replaced, though court documents do not state a reason for his request. He was then represented by four different attorneys over the following year.

In January, his attorneys at the time, Devin McLaughlin and Lisa Shelkrot, filed a motion in federal court in Burlington to withdraw as Simpson’s defense attorneys.

“We are in agreement with Mr. Simpson that the attorney-client relationship has broken down to such an extent that we cannot provide constitutionally adequate or effective representation for Mr. Simpson,” the motion read. McLaughlin added that a conflict of interest has arisen meaning he can no longer “ethically represent Mr. Simpson.”

The motion did not go into further detail on the conflict of interest or the reason the relationship soured.

Kraig LaPorte, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Vermont declined to comment on the effect the turnover might have on the case. A hearing to address Simpson’s request is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Monday in U.S. District Court in Burlington.

The victim in the case, Celia Roessler, sued the state of Vermont and Valley Vista, a Bradford, Vt.-based treatment facility that Simpson walked away from before the alleged abduction. She received $400,000 from Vermont in 2019 to settle its part of the lawsuit.

The Valley News generally doesn’t name victims of sexual assault unless they’ve identified themselves publicly, as Roessler has.

Anna Merriman can be reached at amerriman@vnews.com or 603-727-3216.




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