Murder suspect won't challenge return to New Hampshire

Thursday August 15, 2013

BRATTLEBORO -- Murder suspect James Robarge soon will be on his way back to New Hampshire.

At a court hearing Wednesday in Brattleboro, officials said a recently received governor's warrant clears the way for Robarge to face a charge of reckless second-degree murder in connection with his wife's death in Charlestown, N.H.

Robarge's attorney announced that he will file no legal challenge to his extradition from Vermont, where he was arrested in early July after a police chase in the Bellows Falls area.

"Mr. Robarge will be available for the New Hampshire authorities," public defender Mimi Brill said in Windham Superior Court Criminal Division.

Robarge, 43, is accused of killing his 42-year-old wife, Kelly Robarge. She disappeared June 27, and her body was found July 6 in a wooded area in Unity, N.H.

Prosecutors have listed the cause of her death as "homicidal violence by undetermined means."

Robarge had been estranged from his wife and had been living for several months in the Saxtons River area with his stepfather.

Investigators have alleged that Robarge had been verbally and physically abusive with his wife and also had threatened to kill her if she pursued a divorce.

Kelly Robarge filed for divorce on the same day she disappeared.

Robarge was questioned by police after his wife's disappearance. But he was released and ended up back in Vermont, where he made an appointment with a mental-health worker in Bellows Falls July 2.

"When he called, Robarge indicated that he was likely to become violent and hurt himself or others," police wrote in a court affidavit. "Robarge also indicated that he was involved with a missing-person investigation in Charlestown."

That call was reported to police, and officers found Robarge driving south on Route 121 toward Bellows Falls. He stopped and put his hands outside the vehicle's window but then drove away, and a subsequent pursuit reached speeds of 50 mph in a 25 mph zone, court documents say.

Robarge nearly struck pedestrians in the parking lot of the Urgent Care facility in Bellows Falls, then fled inside the building, where he was arrested, an affidavit says.

On Wednesday, Windham County Deputy State's Attorney Steven Brown asked that any bail set for charges related to that pursuit be struck so that Robarge can return to New Hampshire to face court action there.

But Brown also asked that the Vermont case "remain open for prosecution" at some later date.

Brown said extradition to New Hampshire is expected within 14 days. Brill asked why the process might take so long, but Judge John Wesley said there was no legal basis for the Windham court to speed up the proceedings.

"The court doesn't really have anything left to do ... except to acknowledge that there is no impediment to the execution of the governor's warrant," Wesley said.

New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan's warrant, affixed with the state seal, notes that Robarge "fled from the justice of this state and has taken refuge and is now to be found in the state of Vermont."

"I do hereby respectfully demand that James R. Robarge, a fugitive from justice, be arrested, secured and delivered to Sgt. John Sonia of the N.H. State Police Major Crimes Unit and/or his authorized agent, who is hereby authorized to receive, convey and transport the fugitive to this state, here to be dealt with according to law."

Mike Faher can be reached at or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.


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