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Nathaniel Kibby wanted to testify before taking plea deal in kidnapping, torture case

Nathaniel Kibby wrote to a judge that he considered his public defenders the “enemy” since they disagreed with him on trial strategy and did not feel he should testify.
Nathaniel Kibby wrote to a judge that he considered his public defenders the “enemy” since they disagreed with him on trial strategy and did not feel he should testify. Charles Krupa/Associated Press

About two weeks before Nathaniel Kibby accepted a plea deal that would send him to prison for decades for kidnapping a 14-year-old girl in New Hampshire and sexually assaulting and torturing her for months, he was adamant that he intended to testify in his own defense at trial.

“I DO NOT INTEND TO COMMIT THE CRIME OF PERJURY,” Kibby wrote to Belknap County Superior Court Judge Larry Smukler in a handwritten letter dated May 13, 2016. “I INTEND TO TESTIFY TO THE TRUTH.”

Kibby wrote that he considered his public defenders the “enemy” since they disagreed with him on trial strategy and did not feel he should testify.

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“There is no doubt whatsoever that I will execute my right to testify,” he wrote. “Nothing short of this court compromising my right to freely testify (to the truth) without conflict, will change that. This is an immovable fact as certain as the laws of physics.”

Soon after sending the letter, Kibby, one of the most notorious defendants in recent history in New Hampshire, had a change of heart.

He accepted a plea deal on May 26 of last year, in which he admitted to sexual assault, kidnapping, criminal threatening, witness tampering, and assault in exchange for a sentence of 45 to 90 years.

His letter to Smukler had been sealed until recently while the state Supreme Court took up a separate legal issue.

The massive search for the missing 14-year-old drew international attention to the New Hampshire town of Conway, where she was abducted in 2013. It ended when Kibby, now 37, released her in July 2014.

Proseuctors have said the victim, three days shy of her 15th birthday, accepted a ride after school from Kibby because she had forgotten to wear socks and her boots were giving her blisters. He promised to drive her to a sandwich shop, but instead drove her to a Home Depot parking lot and drew a handgun.

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The girl asked whether she was going to be killed or raped and offered to tell no one if he let her go. Kibby said he wanted oral sex and wouldn’t keep her for more than an hour. He drove through the back roads to his home in Gorham and repeatedly shocked her with a Taser, according to prosecutors.

Also at his home, Kibby gagged her, placed her in a storage container, and sexually assaulted her, officials said.

He later tied her to his bed, fitting her with a shock collar intended to stop dogs from barking, according to prosecutors. He placed her in diapers and gave her a device that would deliver water when he wasn’t there, authorities said. During her captivity, Kibby gave his victim sleeping pills, alcohol, and marijuana.

In court documents, prosecutors said Kibby sexually assaulted the girl nearly every day as he held her captive from October 2013 until the following July.

His lawyers had said the victim told investigators that “Mr. Kibby got the idea to kidnap her based upon bondage pornography.”

The girl was widely identified by name in a number of news outlets including the Boston Globe when she first disappeared, but the Globe stopped naming her after investigators arrested Kibby and detailed the sexual assaults.

Prior to the plea deal, Kibby’s lawyers had said in court papers that they believed he planned to testify untruthfully, which he adamantly denied in his letter to the judge. He said the impasse created a conflict between himself and his lawyers.

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“That is not a meaningful attorney-client relationship,” Kibby wrote. “A substantive conflict of interest now exists. . . . To proceed forward as things have been left undermines my constitutionally protected right to a fair trial with adequate legal representation, free of prejudice.”


Andy Rosen of the Globe staff and Sarah Schweitzer formerly of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.