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Pardon hearing scheduled for Ward Bird

January 26, 2011
MOULTONBORO — Ward Bird will receive a pardon hearing by the Governor and Executive Council on Feb. 1.

Last Wednesday, the Executive Council voted unanimously in favor of granting Bird a pardon hearing regarding his conviction on criminal threatening charges.

In 2006, Bird was arrested and charged with criminal threatening after a woman accused him of threatening her with a gun to get off his property, though Bird's wife Virginia Bird said the women became belligerent and refused to leave their property. She said her husband took the gun out to check the safety before going inside to call police.

The case reached the New Hampshire Supreme Court, which issued a ruling on Oct. 27, 2010 upholding Bird's conviction. Bird surrendered to authorities on Nov. 17, 2010 to serve a minimum of three-years in state prison but was later transferred to the Carroll County Jail.

Friends, family, and members of the community have rallied behind Bird and petitioned Gov. John Lynch and the Executive Council to grant him a pardon.

On Jan. 13, the 367-page pardon petition was sent from the Attorney General's Office to the Governor and Council for their meeting.

At the Jan. 19 meeting, Executive Councilor Ray Burton made the motion to have a pardon hearing, a motion seconded by Executive Councilor David Wheeler that was approved unanimously.

Burton said the hearing is intended to hear facts from various points of view and is not a retrial. Burton said out of the 33 years he has served on the Executive Council, hearings of this nature are rare.

"This whole matter was outside the box and maybe the penalty was too harsh as applied by the judge," Burton said, adding that he will welcome any presented viewpoint.

Virginia Bird was also present at the meeting with numerous supporters and said this was the first time she has been to an Executive Council meeting and was appreciative of being shown the process.

"I think it's unbelievable," Virginia Bird said. "I just find it amazing that everything is still open to us, it's an education. It's an open government, that's just what I really appreciate very much."

The hearing has been scheduled for Feb. 1 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. in Council chambers at the Statehouse. Burton said Gov. Lynch will be the presiding officer of the hearing with the Council running the scheduled two-hour meeting. Burton said, while it is possible a vote could be taken that day, it is likely the Governor and Council will need time to process the information before making a decision.

"I do believe that it is in fairness to everyone involved that the Governor and Council should act upon this and not let it hang twisting in the wind," Burton said. "I think plenty of input has come in and it's time for the Governor and Council to act one way or another."

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