LACONIA — County Attorney Melissa C. Guldbrandsen yesterday filed her objection to the motion of Attorney Mark Sisti, who is defending Amy Lafond against charges that her reckless and negligent driving took the life of one teenage girl and severely injured another, to try drug and traffic charges against her separately.
Gulbrandsen is asserting that Lafonds "consumption of drugs" was was part of an "ongoing criminal episode".
Lafond, 53, is charged with manslaughter, a class A felony, two counts of negligent homicide (alternative theories), both class B felonies, and second degree assault, a class B felony, arising from an incident on April 19 when she allegedly drove into two teenage girls on Messer Street, killing Lilyanna Johnson and seriously injuring Allyssa Miner. She is also charged with possession of a narcotic drug, possession of prescriptions drugs as well as three traffic violations—straying from the proper lane, failing to yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk and speeding.
Guldbrandsen has not alleged that Lafond was under the influence of either alcohol or drugs when the collision occurred, in which case the charges of negligent would be class A felonies and carry enhanced penalties. Instead, she has charged her with negligent homicide first for "failing to maintain a proper lookout" and second for "failing to pay due attention" and added the phrase "after having consumed drugs" in each case.
All the charges were consolidated on December 24, 2013, approximately three weeks after Lafond retained Sisti as defense counsel in place of attorneys from the New Hampshire Public Defenders Office.
In asking the court to sever the charges for drug and traffic offenses from those for manslaughter and negligent homicide, Sisti claimed that the first set of charges is not related to the second. He cited an opinion of the New Hampshire Supreme Court holding that related offenses must be based on "a common plan," that is, "a definite prior design which included doing the charged acts as part of its consummation." It is not sufficient, Sisti claimed, to contend that a sequence of actions "resembles a design." Instead "the prior conduct must be intertwined with what follows, such that the charged acts are mutually dependent," he said.
Sisti insisted there is "no interdependence among the charges" against Lafond. He noted in deciding whether charges should be severed, the Supreme Court held that courts should consider whether "in view of the number of offenses charged and the complexity of the evidence to be offered, the trier of fact will be able to distinguish the evidence and apply the law intelligently to each offense." In this case, Sisti concluded, "the jury will run a considerable risk of confusing the evidence the state will offer to support the manslaughter and negligent homicide charges from the drug charges" and "be hard pressed not to consider the alleged presence of contraband as evidence in the other charges."
In response, Guldbrandsen asserted that "the conduct involved the consumption of drugs which appeared in the Defendant's blood after the collision. Thus," she continued. "the ongoing criminal episode in this case occurred from the time the Defendant consumed drugs, continued through her traffic violations and the collision with Johnson and Miner, and ended when an oxycodone pill was found in her possession while receiving treatment for her injuries resulting from the collision."
In addition, Guldbrandsen contended that Sisti failed to file his motion to sever the charges in the a timely manner. Citing the rules of the Superior Court in criminal proceedings, she noted that motions to sever charges must be filed not more than 60 days after entering a plea of not guilty. In Lafond's case, she said the deadline fell on or about December 3, 2013 while Sisti filed his motion in April, after the trial date had been continued twice, without showing good cause for the late filing.
Last Updated on Saturday, 10 May 2014 12:57
GILFORD — Selectmen announced yesterday that they will be appointing a new police chief Monday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. although the board hasn't identified who it is.
The department has been operating with Lt. James Leach as acting chief since former Chief Kevin Keenan resigned in November of 2013 after admitting an affair with a subordinate officer. Keenan had been on leave since August of 2013.
Selectmen initially used a citizen's review panel to whittle down the nearly 40-applicant strong pool of people who applied for the job.
The top candidates were interviewed by selectmen and after five months, they've made their selection.
The Gilford Police department employees 18 full-time sworn officers, two-part-time officers, and six administrative staff members. The department includes a K-9 team and motorcycle patrols in the summer.
Among his other responsibilities, the new chief will oversee the $1.2-million renovation to the existing police station that was approved by the voters at the March town meeting.
Last Updated on Saturday, 10 May 2014 12:51
LACONIA — When someone or something destroyed a mailbox at 65 Shore Drive on April 29, the fallout created more problems for Hazel Zimmer than she ever imagined.
Not only does she have to replace her mailbox, she can't get her mailed delivered until she does.
Zimmer explained that for years she and her late husband had a mailbox attached to the side of her house. To get to it, the mail carrier would walk up the driveway and deliver the mail to the box. She said that mailbox is still attached to her house.
About seven years ago, Zimmer said their driveway became very icy during a bad winter and her husband installed a mailbox at the end of the driveway as a convenience to the mail carrier.
According to Zimmer, the Laconia Postmaster told her that the U.S. Post Office manual says that once an "improper mode" has been extended by a mail carrier, the service will be withdrawn provided the error is detected in 90 days."
Translated, this means that should the mail carrier deliver Zimmer's mail to the box attached to the house, he or she would be obliged to continue to do so if it continues longer than 90 days. In Zimmer's case, the Post Office won't deliver the mail until she replaces her mailbox at the end of the driveway.
The Daily Sun reached out to the U.S. Post Office for comment but didn't get a reply.
"I've been riding my bicycle every day to the Post Office to get my mail," Zimmer said.
She said she plans on replacing the mailbox by summer's end, however feels that because the Post Office delivers mail to a box attached to the house at a number of homes on Shore Drive, they should deliver her mail to her old box.
"There are people on my street who refuse to put a mail box at the end of their driveways and they still get their mail," she said.
As for the vandalism, Zimmer said her real desire is to have the person or people who damaged her mailbox to step forward and take responsibility.
She said it's going to cost her at least $200 to replace it because her husband had set the post in cement and now the cement has to be dug up and re-poured for her to install a new box.
Last Updated on Saturday, 10 May 2014 12:47
CORRECTION - Tilton Selectboard Chair Pat Consentino said Thursday that Det. Cpl. Matt Dawson has not gotten a pay check since April 9. That he had been on a paid leave since early November until the present was incorrectly reported in an article that ran on page 1 of The Daily Sun on April 8. Consentino said Dawson is still employed by the Police Department.
Last Updated on Saturday, 10 May 2014 01:38
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