Arrest made in Hanover’s July 27 assault

by Jessica Avitabile | 8/8/14 10:26am

Lebanon resident Sean Merrihew, 23, was released on $10,000 bail after being charged with second-degree assault on Tuesday for allegedly assaulting Mark Cookson, 53, on July 27 by Robert’s Flowers.

Mark Ruppel, 26, and Troy Schwarz, 20, were charged with robbery, second-degree assault and falsifying physical evidence for the July 2 assault on the Green.

Ruppel and Schwarz appeared for a probable cause hearing in the Lebanon’s second circuit court on July 14 and had their cases moved to Grafton Superior Court.

Merrihew, who will apear in Lebanon’s second circuit court on Sept. 15, was a Hinman Mail Center employee for more than three months before 2011, according to court documents.

The court ordered Schwarz not to have contact with Hubert Clark ’13, the victim of the assault, Ruppel or Ian Muzzey, who was found with the two men on the night of the assault.

Hanover Police chief Charlie Dennis said that while he did not want to go into detail about the police’s identification techniques, investigators used witness information and checked local businesses to find Merrihew. While initial reports said that witnesses saw both a man and a woman fleeing the scene, Dennis said the woman was not observed physically assaulting Cookson.

Merrihew previously pled guilty to improper conduct after an accident, following a hit-and-run on Jan. 22, 2011.

On July 2, Hanover Police and Safety and Security arrived on the Green and found Clark on the ground bleeding from his face and head, according to court documents. After receiving medical attention, Clark told police he had been walking across the Green when he saw a man. His description of the man matched Ruppel’s appearance. The man then allegedly punched Clark in the face, then continued to punch him as Clark fell to the ground in an attempt to protect himself and held up his wallet, telling his attacker to take it. Muzzey said in a police interview that he saw the attack happen but did not want to be involved and walked in the opposite direction.

Hanover police later located Ruppel, Schwarz and Muzzey in the municipal parking lot behind Molly’s Restaurant. Both Ruppel and Schwarz had obvious blood on their person or clothing, and both men initially denied they had blood on their clothing or persons, then attempted to provide alternate explanations for its presence. Schwarz attempted to rub away the spatters after he had been detained, according to court documents.

Muzzey said in the police interview that Ruppel did not have money on his person earlier in the night but had cash and tickets in his hand, which Muzzey assumed Ruppel took from the victim, when they were apprehended. Schwarz was also found with two $5 bills, one $1 bill, two tickets to an upcoming Hopkins Center event, a ticket to a recent concert at Fenway Park and a receipt from the Red Sox team store. Clark confirmed that these items were his, and that he could provide proof of purchasing these items.

Clark was taken to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center where he needed stitches from a plastic surgeon to sew the area between his lower lip and chin, and also had abrasions on his body. Due to significant bruising on his right temple, a CAT scan was ordered to ensure there were not any other significant injuries.

Town manager Julia Griffin said that people were relieved that the July 27 assault was not a random encounter. Overall, she said, town residents have not expressed much concern over the incidents.

In order to ensure that area residents feel safe, Hanover Police increased patrols through the downtown corridor of Main Street and its surrounding area, Griffin said. Additionally, she said, the town had follow-up conversations with some bar owners in town. Alcohol was involved in both of the assaults, she said, and over-serving could have possibly occurred.

“If you can manage how much alcohol is being served, you are less likely to have people overly intoxicated, and you’re less likely to have people involved in an altercation that they would not otherwise have been part of,” Griffin said.

In the police report, Muzzey, who was found with Ruppel and Schwarz after the assault but was not arrested, said that the three men had gone to Molly’s Restaurant earlier in the evening, and Muzzey and Ruppel had consumed drinks.

A Molly’s manager said that, to her knowledge, the police have been unable to prove that the three men were at Molly’s that night.

Murphy’s manager Nigel Leeming said he called Griffin following a statement she made about over-serving. He said that while some other bars in Hanover do not always abide by state serving laws, Murphy’s has a very strict liquor policy, and said that some work does need to be done in Hanover regarding over-serving in order to make the town safer.