Jury rules Mass. man not guilty in Lebanon stabbing

New London — A six-member jury sided with the defense’s claims of self-defense and delivered a not-guilty verdict Friday in the case of a Massachusetts man accused of stabbing a man in the back eight times during a dispute at a Lebanon horse farm last year.

Matthew Hanson, 32, of Bourne, Mass., had gone to trial in New London Superior Court with charges of attempted murder, first-degree assault, sixth-degree larceny and second-degree criminal mischief.

Represented by attorneys Michael A. Blanchard and Bryan P. Fiengo, he was found not guilty on all counts following a day and a half of deliberations.

Blanchard, a member of the New London law firm Suisman Shapiro, said he and Fiengo proved to a jury that Hanson had acted in self-defense.

The stabbing had occurred at Carbery Fields Farm at 859 Beaumont Highway in Lebanon at 1:22 a.m. on April 28, 2012.

Hanson had gone to the farm to retrieve items from his ex-girlfriend, Annie Morris, according to a state police report. A dispute ensued, and Morris went to a neighbor’s home. It was there that police said Hanson stabbed 30-year-old Shane Crawford, the neighbor’s boyfriend, following a confrontation.

Hanson stabbed Crawford multiple times in the back with a serrated knife, according to the report.

Hanson, who has no previous criminal record, had consistently stated he had acted in self-defense and made that claim when he called 911 to report the stabbing, Blanchard said.

As part of the defense, Blanchard said they had enlisted testimony from a self-defense defense expert and a forensic pathologist to discuss the depth of the wounds, the orientations of the wounds and the use of force necessary to inflict the wounds suffered by Crawford. After being taken to Windham Hospital, Crawford was airlifted to Hartford Hospital to undergo emergency surgery as a result of the wounds.

The defense team also used Facebook, Blanchard said, to track public posts by Crawford that helped their case.

“Those posts were supportive of him being the initial aggressor in the case,” Blanchard said. “We were fortunate to have a thoughtful and intelligent jury that sifted through all the evidence. They took their time and thankfully came to the correct decision.”

In taking the case to a jury, Hanson turned down an offer from the state to plead guilty in exchange for a nine-year prison sentence.

Blanchard said prior to the incident, Hanson had planned to pursue his doctorate degree in medieval literature at Columbia University. Blanchard said Hanson is relieved by the verdict and hopes to return to his studies.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant State’s Attorney David Smith, who was not immediately available for comment.

g.smith@theday.com

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