By Jill Harmacinski
---- — METHUEN — A local man charged with trapping women in his car and raping them is trying to get statements he made to police suppressed, claiming he was never read his Miranda rights when he was arrested.
Kenneth Poirier, 40, is claiming he never “knowingly, intelligently or voluntarily waived his rights” to remain silent or have a lawyer present when he was questioned and arrested by Methuen police on Oct. 12, 2010.
“The defendant’s ability to understand and voluntarily waive his constitutional rights were impaired by the lack of clear Miranda warnings and a lack of understanding of what the charges were against him,” according to the motion to suppress.
Poirier, formerly of 17 Gaudette Lane, Pelham, N.H., is being held on $50,000 bail at Middleton Jail for the alleged rape of women on May 23 and Oct. 10, 2010 in Methuen. He is also accused of altering and possibly removing a handle on the passenger door of his red Pontiac Grand Am to hinder victims from fleeing his car.
DNA evidence from a cigarette butt found at one of the rape scenes links Poirier to unsolved rapes in Methuen, Hampton, N.H. and a 1988 case when Poirier would have been a juvenile, prosecutors said. However, Poirier has not been charged in the unsolved rapes that investigators linked to him through the DNA evidence discovered last fall.
Prosecutor Kate MacDougall and defense attorney John Morris are expected to argue the motion to suppress early next month. The motion was originally filed by Poirier’s former defense attorney Lynette Leos.
On Oct. 12, 2010, Poirier was arrested outside 34 Merrimack Village in Merrimac after a warrant for his arrest on kidnapping, indecent assault and battery and assault and battery charges was issued. Poirier was also picked out of a line-up by an alleged victim, according to the motion.
After he was brought to Methuen and booked on the charges, Poirier was interviewed by Detective Kevin Dzioba. During this interview, Poirier “allegedly told police the woman he picked up (the alleged victim) was in fact a prostitute. He said that the woman agreed to perform oral sex on him for a fee, which she allegedly did,” according to the motion to suppress. Poirier claimed he was robbed of $30 by her.
Then, “without his consent,” Poirier was also ordered to turn over his clothes and submit to photographs.
Poirier “was not adequately informed of his rights and consequently was not able to make a knowing or voluntary statement to police and said such the statements as well as the physical evidence must be suppressed,” according to the motion.
Last summer, before the additional DNA evidence was discovered, Poirier was released from jail when a superior court judge ruled Methuen police had no legal basis to stop his car and arrest him on Oct. 7, 2010. Judge Timothy Feeley ruled the 2 a.m. traffic stop in a Methuen industrial park area was a “warrantless stop” and all observations, evidence seized and statements Poirier made were to be suppressed.
One of the rape victims identified Poirier from a booking photo taken after that arrest. Due to Feeley’s decision, her identification was tossed from evidence.
The woman who said she was raped on Oct. 10, 2010 said she was walking on Howe Street at 5 a.m. when she was forced into a car, driven to a secluded area near the Haverhill line and sexually assaulted. The woman told police there was no handle on the passenger’s door of the car but that she struggled with Poirier and escaped.
After Poirier was charged with her rape and was arraigned in Lawrence District Court, another woman came forward, telling police Poirier had forced her into his car and sexually attacked her on May 23, 2010.
The woman, who lived in the Pleasant Valley Street area, said just after midnight she stepped outside her apartment to get some air. A man in a red and white car stopped and asked her for directions.
When she approached the car, the man the victim identified as Poirier allegedly threatened to shoot her with a small handgun he had in the center console of the car. He ordered her into the passenger seat and drove onto Pleasant Valley Street and down Old Ferry Street to an area with brush, trees and open space, she told police.
The woman said she was raped, slapped in the face, head, buttocks and upper body for the next three hours. She asked if she could get out of the car, urinate and get dressed. Once she got out, the woman ran into the woods and Poirier allegedly drove away. When she made it back to Pleasant Valley Street, she flagged down a cruiser.
Follow staff reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter under the screenname EagleTribJill.