CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A man who pleaded guilty to fatally shooting a friend’s abusive stepfather in a case that went unsolved for more than 20 years is asking for a sentence reduction.
In 2006, Eric Windhurst, of Hopkinton, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the 1985 death of Danny Paquette in Hooksett and was sentenced to a 15- to 36-year prison term. He’s served about 10 years.
WMUR-TV reports (http://bit.ly/1TRYNqK) that his lawyer has petitioned a Merrimack County judge under a law that allows for a reduced sentence after serving two thirds of the minimum. The lawyer said Windhurst isn’t a threat and has worked to improve himself.
The state has 30 days to file an objection. Paquette’s brother, Victor Paquette, calls the request a slap in the face.
“He’s where he deserves to be for sure. So we’d like to keep him there for every day possible,” Victor Paquette said.
Windhurst was 17 when the shooting happened. He’s now 48.
Windhurst said he was trying to protect Melanie Paquette, a fellow student at Hopkinton High School.
Melanie Paquette said her stepfather had raped and abused her, and she was afraid he’d do it again. She had recently returned from Alaska, where her mother had moved after ending an abusive marriage to Danny Paquette.
Court documents released after Windhurst pleaded guilty indicated that he also had learned of sexual abuse in his own family, and that anger over that probably led to the shooting.
Prosecutors said Melanie Paquette didn’t believe Windhurst would shoot her stepfather until Windhurst called her on that morning in November 1985, telling her he was going to “do it.” She went with him.
Afterward, Windhurst and Paquette agreed that if anyone questioned them, they would say they had spent the day at a field hockey game in Plymouth. They eventually confided in others, but Danny Paquette’s death nevertheless went unsolved for years. Investigators got a break in 2004, when Melanie Paquette agreed to cooperate. She served a 15-month sentence on a charge of hindering arrest.