Brattleboro man convicted in kidnap case
BRATTLEBORO - A jury on Saturday convicted 30-year-old Salahdin Trowell on two felony charges stemming from the May 2013 kidnapping of two Brattleboro women.
Trowell, of Brattleboro, was convicted of kidnapping as well as assault and robbery after jurors had deliberated for more than 11 hours on Friday and Saturday in Windham Superior Court Criminal Division.
He will be sentenced at a later date and remains jailed without bail. Trowell faces a maximum penalty of life imprisonment on the kidnapping charge and 10 years in jail on the assault and robbery count.
"I think, after listening to four days of evidence, listening to more than 10 witnesses and looking at video, all the evidence supported the jury's verdict," Windham County Deputy State's Attorney Steven Brown said.
He added that jurors "obviously spent a lot of time and were very thorough."
Defense attorney Robert Sussman could not be reached for comment after Saturday morning's verdict.
Trowell was accused of directing the abduction of the two victims on May 23, 2013, from the Flat Street entrance of Brattleboro's Transportation Center in an attempt to find a man who owed him a drug debt.
Brattleboro police said Trowell; James Manning of Jersey City, N.J.; and Marcus Koritz of Brattleboro were part of a group that surrounded the women and eventually forced them into a Cadillac Escalade driven by Jacobina Carter of Brattleboro.
Trowell, who earlier had taken $50 from one of the victims, exited the vehicle. The women then were driven to Western Avenue, where Manning and Koritz engaged in a brief altercation at an apartment, investigators have said.
Police stopped the SUV shortly thereafter on Western Avenue, and the two victims - who had been calling 911 and sending text messages during the short ride - were freed unharmed.
Manning, Koritz and Carter were arrested on the spot. Trowell was found hiding under a bed in a Canal Street apartment later that day.
Charges still are pending against Koritz, 20, and Carter, 39. Both are due in court next month for pre-trial conferences. Manning, 29, struck a plea deal in December and testified for the prosecution during Trowell's four-day trial.
Sussman had assailed Manning's credibility, saying Trowell was "James Manning's get-out-of-jail-free card."
He also repeatedly noted that the victims were on probation for crimes including providing false information to police: One of the women, Sussman told jurors in his closing argument, "had three to four years' worth of reasonable doubt."
Additionally, Sussman had pointed out there was no evidence that Trowell had used a weapon or had even touched the victims.
Both victims testified on Tuesday, the trial's first day. In his closing argument Friday, Brown told jurors that, while the two women "aren't perfect," that didn't disqualify them from being victims.
"People who aren't perfect can be the complaining witnesses in a crime," Brown said.
He also had advised jurors from the start that there would be no evidence of a weapon. Rather, Brown said on Friday, the case was "about intimidation and fear."
In a police affidavit filed in support of the kidnapping case, one of the victims had described Trowell as a "known drug dealer in Brattleboro" who "is violent and threatens people regularly."
Court documents show that Trowell has an extensive record in New Jersey including convictions for drug offenses, simple assault, aggravated assault and aggravated assault with bodily injury. His arrest record in New Jersey dates to 1997.
Mike Faher can be reached at email@example.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.
TALK TO US
If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.