Canadian court to extradite 2 men to New Hampshire in 1988 murders

The Supreme Court of Canada has ordered the extradition of two men to New Hampshire to face murder charges in the deaths of two women nearly 27 years ago.

The nine justices ruled from the bench following a hearing Thursday on Anthony Barnaby and David Caplin. They are Canadian Micmac Indians who were working construction in Nashua when Charlene Ranstrom, 48, and Brenda Warner, 32, were bound, beaten and stabbed to death in their home in October 1988.

Police said new DNA evidence and witnesses justify extradition. The Canadian government ordered their removal in 2011, but their cases have been under appeal since then.

Three juries failed to convict or acquit Barnaby, the last time in 1990. Prosecutors at Barnaby's trials argued that he killed the women because he disliked their lesbian lifestyle and had a long-standing feud with them over parking spaces and damage to their apartment. Officials dropped first-degree murder charges against Caplin after courts threw out much of the evidence. Prosecutors at the time said the balance of their evidence against him was circumstantial.

Nashua detectives, with the support of the cold-case unit at the attorney general's office, agreed to reopen the investigation into the deaths in 2010. They reinterviewed witnesses, which led them to some new information. They also had advanced forensic tests done on blood and hairs that were found at the crime scene, linking one hair found on Warner's body directly to Caplin.

"I'm very happy about the court's decision to extradite these two men," said Frank Bougeois, a recently retired Nashua police detective sergeant who led a cold-case investigation into the deaths. "I'm happy for the victims' families, and we'll let the judicial system decide what happens from here. ... We put a lot of hard work into this case."

Mark Sisti, who defended Barnaby years ago and worked on his extradition case, said he's stunned that it is being resuscitated. "It's absolutely outrageous," he said. "I can't even imagine this thing coming back here."

Sisti said no one in New Hampshire has ever been tried four times for the same crime.

Susan Morrell of the state attorney general's office, who prosecuted the cases, didn't immediately return an email seeking comment Friday.

Prosecutors in Canada argued before the Supreme Court that a fourth trial might be unusual but was not necessarily an abuse.

Sisti said there's a long way to go before the two men would ever get in front of another jury.

"What's being set up now is extensive pretrial litigation, reconstruction of the case itself, reopening all of these avenues of investigation, reinterviewing everybody, transcribing and delivering all of the transcripts of all three trials, which will be approximately three to four months of testimony which has to be transcribed ... it's going to go on for quite a while," he said.

Sisti said witnesses in the case have died, and "all of our police reports and notes and transcripts burned in a fire at my office in 1994."