Posted: Wednesday, January 21, 2015 5:32 pm
By MARTHA SHANAHAN Sentinel Staff
A local lawmaker has sponsored several bills in the N.H. House of Representatives that would increase protections for people on the state’s registry of sex offenders.
Rep. Timothy N. Robertson, D-Keene, said he was motivated by information about two recent local attacks that he said may have been committed by someone who targeted people listed on the registry.
Robertson said he believes this is a common problem in the state.
“They have been found guilty, and they have served their time,” Robertson said. “”They don’t deserve to be targeted for the rest of their lives.”
One of the four bills he’s introduced would “(prohibit) the use of sex offender registry information for the purpose of harassing, intimidating, or threatening a registered sexual offender or offender against children, or any family member, employer or landlord of such person.”
A representative from the Concord organization Citizens for Criminal Justice Reform, Chris Dornin, encouraged Robertson to sponsor that bill after he investigated the homicide of 48-year-old David E. Wheelock of Keene and an attack on a Westmoreland man that Dornin believes are connected.
Wheelock was killed in December 2013 at his house on Pearl Street in Keene.
He had been convicted of 28 counts of child pornography in October 2005, and those convictions are listed on the N.H. Department of Safety’s sex offender registry.
Authorities have not identified a suspect or a motive in the murder, but Assistant N.H. Attorney General Benjamin J. Agati said last month that they are considering a theory that Wheelock’s sexual offender status made him a target.
Dornin said the possibility that Wheelock was targeted for being on the registry indicated a threat to other registered sex offenders.
“It underscores how punitive the registry is, and the unfairness of charging someone (just to make them) a shaming and violence target,” he said.
Dornin cited another case in which he believes an attacker mistook a Westmoreland man on the sex offender registry for his neighbor.
The victim, Walter Field, was attacked last year outside his house, and police said at the time that the assailant had been looking for another person.
The assault left Field with fractures to his face and damage to his left eye, according to N.H. State Police Sgt. Shawn M. Skahan, who investigated the crime.
During the attack, one of Field’s brothers overheard the assailant make statements that led police to conclude Field’s neighbor was the intended target of the attack.
Police did not release the neighbor’s name, citing safety concerns, but Dornin said he has spoken to the man, who he said is a registered sex offender.