Man to represent self at Stonington Facebook forum harassment trial

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A North Stonington man charged with harassing the moderator of the Stonington Community Forum Facebook page and his family will be representing himself at his trial in Superior Court.

Morgan S. Dean, 39, of 29 Clarks Falls Road confirmed he will be acting as his own lawyer during a tense appearance Monday before Judge Arthur C. Hadden in Norwich.

Stonington police charged Dean in January with second-degree harassment, a Class C misdemeanor offense that could land him in prison for 90 days and a fine of $500 if convicted.

The police allege Dan used sexually graphic and racist language to harass forum moderator Stephen Bessette and his family, including sending Bessette's wife a message asking if he could swing by her house. The message was accompanied by a photo of Bessette's address and phone number, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.

Dean wore a U.S. Marines uniform to court Monday and answered a series of questions posed by the judge in clipped, military fashion, sometimes responding before the judge had finished speaking. Hadden told Dean not to interrupt the judge or anyone else.

"You want to cause as much irritation and aggravation as you can," Hadden said. "Let's act like an adult."

The judge advised Dean that he should reconsider wearing his military uniform in an effort to try and influence the court, citing military regulations and state and federal laws.

"Yes sir," Dean responded.

Details of Dean's military service could not immediately be confirmed, but a records search indicates he resided at Marine bases in California in 1999 and 2000.

Judge Hadden told Dean he would be a distinct disadavantage if he represents himself at trial, since Supervisory Assistant State's Attorney David J. Smith is a trained lawyer with years of trial experience.

Dean confirmed that he understands. The judge granted a motion Dean had filed seeking information about the case and said the case would be marked "ready" for trial, meaning that jury selection would be scheduled in the near future.

Dean also has pending charges of second-degree breach of peace (two counts) and third-degree criminal mischief stemming from an October 2018 arrest in North Stonington, according to Judicial Branch records.

Dean and a Stonington highway department employee were arrested in 2016 when an altercation ensued after Dean, employed as a landcaper, drove his tractor over a freshly paved section of road. The state's attorney did not prosecute the charges against either man after both decided not to proceed with the case.

In a profanity laced Facebook post made hours before Monday's court appearance, Dean announced he would be running for first selectman of North Stonington.

"May not win but gonna make a scene," the post says. "And if you disrespect me, I'm gonna beat the (expletive) out of you in a town hall debate and when I post bail I'm gonna come straight to your house and kick the (explective) out of you again."

The post was removed later Monday.

k.florin@theday.com

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