By PHILLIP BANTZ
The Winchester man on trial for stabbing a Keene State College student during a fraternity party last year was convicted on all counts today.
Jurors convicted Gary Duquette of four counts of first-degree assault after deliberating for about five hours over two days. Each count of first-degree assault carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.
The jury began deliberating Thursday at about 1 p.m., and was sent home by Cheshire County Superior Court Judge Philip P. Mangones shortly before 4:30 p.m. after they had not reached a verdict. They resumed deliberations today at 9 a.m. and reached a verdict less than 45 minutes later.
Duquette stared straight ahead as the verdicts were read and as the jury was polled, each saying they believed Duquette was guilty on all counts.
Duquette’s younger sister cried when the verdict came. His mother told him that she loved him, as a bailiff led him from the courtroom in handcuffs. His uncle was also in the courtroom. They all declined comment.
Duquette had been on house arrest for about a year prior to the trial because his family was able to post $10,000 bail. Judge Mangones revoked Duquette’s bail after he was convicted today and he was sent to the Cheshire County jail in Westmoreland.
He will be sentenced after a pre-sentencing investigation, which will include an examination of his criminal history. His adult record stretches back seven years and includes convictions for shoplifting, carrying or selling a weapon, drug possession, simple assault, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, according to Assistant Cheshire County Attorney John S. Webb.
Webb and Assistant Cheshire County Attorney Keith W. Clouatre prosecuted Duquette. They declined comment after the trial, as did Duquette’s attorney, Nathan R. Lynch of Walpole.
The stabbing victim, Justin Ranucci, and his family also declined comment.
Duquette, then 24, was accused of stabbing Ranucci, then 19, in the back, chest and leg outside the Alpha Pi Tau fraternity house at 29 Coolidge St. the night of July 22, 2008. Ranucci’s lung and spleen were punctured during the stabbing.
Webb told jurors that Duquette and Ranucci faced off head-to-head, which meant Ranucci could clearly identify his attacker, while Lynch argued that someone else stabbed Ranucci during a drunken melee. Ranucci also testified that he was certain Duquette stabbed him. Duquette did not testify during the trial.
After the verdict, a juror, who wished to remain anonymous, said she believed the evidence presented by the prosecution and defense was lacking. She said jurors relied heavily on witness testimony.
“We had a lot of debate,” she said. “It was a very difficult case.”