NH v. Timothy Verrill: Small-Town Secrets Murder Trial

Posted at 3:15 PM, April 9, 2024 and last updated 4:17 PM, April 9, 2024

DOVER, N.H. (Court TV) — A jury delivered a mixed verdict for a man accused of brutally murdering two women, one of whom he worked for as part of a drug operation.

timothy verrill appears in court

Timothy Verrill appears in court March 19, 2024. (Court TV)

Timothy Verrill, 41, was charged with murder in the deaths of Jenna Pellegrini and Christine Sullivan, who were killed in 2017. Verrill initially stood trial in Oct. 2019, but a mistrial was declared midway through the state’s case-in-chief after it was determined that there were a significant number of discovery violations.

Verrill was found guilty of second-degree murder for both women, as well as falsifying physical evidence, but was acquitted of first-degree murder charges. The judge deferred setting a sentencing date. Verrill faces 30 years to life without parole.


Court documents, testimony from both the first and second trials and surveillance video don’t align on the exact time the murders happened, or even when they were reported. Christine Sullivan, 48, and Jenna Pellegrini, 32, were killed sometime between Jan. 27 and 28, 2017. It’s unclear who was first to find their bodies and when that happened, but Dean Smoronk, who owned the home where the women were found, called police to report Christine missing on Jan. 29.

Smoronk and Sullivan lived in the home, and Pellegrini was a guest.

When police arrived, the bodies were found beneath the porch of the home, wrapped in tarps, trash bags and other coverings. Both Sullivan and Pellegrini had been stabbed, while Sullivan also suffered blunt force injuries.

During their investigation, detectives said they determined that Smoronk and Sullivan were involved in a drug operation and that Verrill worked for them.

Verrill has maintained his innocence and, during his first trial, was prepared to offer an alternative perpetrator defense; his attorney appeared to be pointing the finger at Smoronk as the possible killer.


On Oct. 23, 2019, the prosecution was presenting its case-in-chief when discovery violations were brought to the court’s attention. Over the next several days, the prosecution and defense would learn that more than 500 pages of written documents and 39 media discs had not been shared in discovery. Among the evidence included in the “significant” discovery were cell phone extractions, a pre-polygraph interview of a witness and surveillance footage.

The defense called for and was granted a mistrial on Oct. 31, 2019, after it was also found that all discovery about the drug investigation in the case had never been turned over to attorneys, despite repeated requests.

While Verrill’s attorneys fought to have the case thrown out, arguing double jeopardy, the appeals court ultimately ruled that the murder trial could move forward with a new jury.

Editorial Note: The court documents reviewed by Court TV and testimony in court offer different timelines for when the victims were killed and their bodies found.


DAY 14 – 4/9/24

DAY 13 – 4/8/24

  • The jury deliberated for a full day, asking one question.
    • The jury asked a question regarding the definition of the word “cause,” when applied to the question of whether Verrill caused the deaths of the victims.
    • The judge told the jurors to follow the definition in the instructions.

DAY 12 – 4/5/24

  • The jury deliberated for a full day.

DAY 11 – 4/3/24

  • The jury was given the case and deliberated for approximately 55 minutes before ending for the day.
  • Assistant Attorney General Peter Hinckley blasted the defense for trying to distract the jury from “facts and evidence” with “rumors and speculation.”
    • Hinckley said the killer – Verrill — went to the house after telling Colwell that’s where he was headed because he suspected Pellegrini was a police informant.
    • Hinckley said the killer – Verrill — was captured on Smoronk’s security cameras hours before the killings wearing a white baseball cap just like the one Verrill wore. A white cap bearing DNA evidence consistent with Verrill’s and Sullivan’s was later found in a bag with bloody paper towels.
    • Hinckley said the killer — Verrill — acted just like a person who’d committed the crimes by getting rid of his phone, fleeing his home with his license plates changed out, and trying to check into rehab.
    • WATCH: Prosecution: Weigh Facts and Evidence, Not Innuendo and Rumors
  • Assistant Public Defender Julie Nye said Timothy Verrill did not kill Christine Sullivan, who he considered a friend, or Jenna Pellegrini. Verrill was trying to get clean and get out of the drug business and had no interest in protecting Dean Smoronk.

DAY 10 – 4/2/24

  • The defense rested its case.
  • Jennifer Sears, a DNA analyst, testified that Timothy Verrill was excluded as a contributor to DNA found on the victims’ fingernails and ring.
    • Nobody else was tested to compare to a partial profile found on the rings.
    • On cross, the prosecution tried to point out that touch DNA can be easily transferred.
  • Erin Saxon, an investigator with the NH Public Defender’s Office, testified to phone calls and text messages between Dean Smoronk and victim Christine Sullivan.
    • Smoronk accused Sullivan of intentionally withholding information from him about his business, he says he hates her and wishes she were dead.
    • On cross, the investigators agreed that Smoronk shared his contempt for Sullivan with others, including Verrill.
    • Saxon said she did not recall seeing any texts about victim Jenna Pelligrini.
    • WATCH: ‘I Wish You Were Dead Already’: Disturbing Texts Sent to Murder Victim
  • Sgt. Stephen McAuley, who photographed the scene for the NH State Police, testified to pictures he took of the kitchen in the home, specifically a corner where a pantry-style cabinet stood with its doors open and a vacuum in front of it, the word “winter” wrapping around the corner of a cabinet, and a portion of the ceiling where a red bloodstain was found.

DAY 9 – 3/29/24

  • The state rested after calling its final two witnesses: a DNA analyst and a drug dealer associate of Dean Smoronk.
    • The DNA analyst testified that Verrill’s DNA profile was consistent with the DNA found on a bloodstained white baseball-style cap found at the crime scene. Victim Christine Sullivan’s blood was also a likely contributor to the DNA evidence on the hat.
    • The jury heard audio testimony from Verrill’s first trial of Steve Clough, an associate of Smoronk who died last year in a motorcycle crash. He testified under an immunity deal.
  • The judge denied the defense’s motion to dismiss the charged based on what the defense described as a lack of physical evidence linking Verrill to the crime and a lack of “state of mind” evidence showing Verrill acted intentionally or purposefully.

DAY 8 – 3/28/24

  • The jury saw still photos from Dean Smoronk’s security footage that showed victim Jenna Pelligrini and Smoronk inside the house, as well as video of Steve Clough and victim Christine Sullivan moving her belongings out of the house.
  • Clough, in recorded testimony, said he discovered blood on the mattress where Jenna Pellegrini slept while checking on Smoronk’s house at Smoronk’s request. Clough returned to the house when Smoronk was there and helped him clean, and Clough was there when police arrived.
  • WATCH: Small-Town Secrets Murder Trial: Witness Smelled Fresh Paint in the Garage

DAY 7 – 3/27/24

  • Jurors heard testimony about blood evidence found at the crime scene in Farmington, NH. Items collected from the bedroom, kitchen and screened porch tested positive for blood.
  • Undisclosed were the identities of the person or persons whose blood was left in various places around the house.
    • On cross-examination, defense attorney Julia Nye questioned the state’s serologist, Kevin McMahon, now retired, about a black and white dress shirt that had green paint on the shirt’s tail. Before the identity of the person who owned the shirt was revealed, there was a sidebar conversation and the objection was sustained.
  • The jury heard more testimony about evidence collection from Gregory Hildreth, New Hampshire State Police, and a 45-minute taped deposition from Ann-Elizabeth Pelonzi regarding latent prints.

DAY 6 – 3/26/24

  • Verrill’s brother, Jeffrey Verrill, testified for the prosecution about his brother’s unusual actions the day after the murders of Christine Sullivan and Jenna Pellegrini.
  • Verrill had injuries to his forearm and right index finger when he met with State Police investigators on January 30, 2017.
  • Timothy Verrill’s fingerprints were identified on various items at the Meaderboro Road home, including trash bags, a plastic cup, tape, and a spray paint can.
  • Verrill’s prints were excluded from a vacuum and a shovel. Fingerprints on the shovel with blood stains belonged to John “Buddy” Seymour, now deceased.
  • Investigators found keys belonging to a Volvo in the driver’s side pocket.
  • Timothy Verrill’s stepmother, Suzanne Verrill, testified about taking her stepson to the hospital on Jan. 28, 2017, where she heard him say that he had been using meth and cocaine.

DAY 5 – 3/25/24

  • The New Hampshire Chief Medical Examiner told jurors that Christine Sullivan and Jenna Pellegrini died from multiple stab wounds, and the manner of death was ruled a homicide.
  • Sullivan and Pellegrini had drugs in their system at the time of their deaths.
  • Jurors were shown close to 200 evidence photos of the crime scene.

DAY 4 – 3/22/24

  • One of the State’s key witnesses, Joshua Colwell, returned to the witness stand Friday.
  • Verrill’s pants had no blood or specks of green paint when he asked to borrow pants from Colwell.
  • Colwell and Dean Smoronk started a side drug operation before the murders, in which Timothy Verrill and Christine Sullivan were not involved.
  • In previous testimony, Colwell thought Sullivan and Jenna Pellegrini were in “cahoots” to rob Dean Smoronk.
  • Colwell invited Smoronk to join the Mountain Men Motorcycle Club, allegedly known for drug trafficking. Verrill was not a member.

DAY 3 – 3/21/24

  • Joshua Colwell, a former drug associate of Dean Smoronk, Christine Smoronk, and defendant Timothy Verrill, told jurors about his association with the three in the summer of 2016. By 2017, Colwell said he was asked to help collect unpaid drug debts on behalf of Smoronk, but says he never collected money from anyone.
  • Colwell was granted immunity for testifying in the murder trial. He was arrested in 2017 on two counts of selling a controlled substance, meth, and pleaded guilty in 2021. Colwell was sentenced to one month in prison and a year of supervised probation. There are pending federal charges against Colwell, and if his testimony is not truthful, he will face several charges, including perjury
  • “[Verrill] was acting weird and asking me if I knew who Jenna was. He asked if I thought she was an informant. I told him I did not know and told him to call Dean,” Colwell testified.
  • Colwell said Verrill only said “interesting night” as he walked past him and smelled of body odor.
  • On cross-examination, defense attorney, Michael McNicoll, questioned Colwell about possibly changing his testimony since Verrill’s first trial in 2019, which ended in a mistrial. Colwell’s testimony during the first trial was that he never collected debt on behalf of Dean Smoronk. In his testimony Thursday, Colwell clarified that he was a “debt collector” for Smoronk but never collected the money or was given money to repay debts.
  • Dean Smoronk returned to Boston, allegedly on Sunday, January 29, 2017, after he could not reach his girlfriend, Christine. Upon entering the home, he saw an issue with a wall panel. He then found a bloody mattress in an upstairs bedroom. Two hours later, after he arrived home, he called 9-1-1 to report Sullivan missing.
  • Colwell was questioned whether he tried contacting Christine while Dean was in Florida. He said, “Not that I recall.”
  • Before proceedings ended Thursday, McNicoll asked Colwell to look for his name to see if there were any corresponding calls to Christine on Friday, January 27, 2017. The jurors will hear his response when they return Friday morning.
  • Jurors watched more home surveillance video of who was at the house on Meaderboro Road between January 25 and January 27, 2017.

DAY 2 – 3/20/24

  • Timothy Verrill said he was having “dark thoughts” and needed sleep and to “get off things,” referring to drugs, months before the murders.
  • Video clips from home surveillance were shown to the jury.
  • A friend of one of the victims, Christine Sullivan, described not being able to contact her the day they were to go sledding.
  • Alexa recordings captured audio on the morning of January 27, 2017, from Sullivan and Verrill asking various questions.
  • Police responded to a report of two women found dead at a home in Farmington, New Hampshire. No bodies were found when police arrived on the scene.
  • Dean Smoronk did not want the police to view his phone initially because he was embarrassed about texts he sent Christine Sullivan that were verbally abusive.

DAY 1 – 3/19/24