Missing link found - Key witness in Tilton drug death located, held in jail

By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN

TILTON — A woman who had been identified as a key witness against a Northfield man accused of selling heroin/fentanyl to a young man who died, spent the weekend in the Belknap County House of Corrections but has since been released.

With a final pre-trial hearing scheduled for Sept. 6, the location and availability of Teanna Bryson, and whether she will be a witness for the state, has been one critical piece of the state's case. Bryson is represented by an attorney.

She has twice been scheduled for hearings regarding her Fifth Amendment Rights against self-incrimination and has failed to appear for either one. She has a third hearing schedule on the same date as the pre-trial.

According to police affidavits, Bryson knew 21-year-old victim Seth Tilton-Fogg while they were in high school and, as Watson's girlfriend, allegedly reached out to him when she learned he was using drugs.

Tilton-Fogg died of overdose on April 2, 2015. Watson was arrested on May 8, 2015, and was charged with selling him the fentanyl police say killed him and one count of possession of heroin/fentanyl.

Watson's attorney, Mark Sisti, has largely based his defense on two points: the first is that Tilton Police didn't properly warn Watson of his rights against self-incrimination when he was first arrested. The second has been the unavailability of Bryson.

As to the first, following a hearing on July 19, Belknap County Superior Court Presiding Justice James O'Neill ruled that police had properly read Watson his Miranda rights at the time of his arrest so any statements he made to them during the subsequent interview can be heard by a jury.

As to Bryson, Deputy Belknap County Attorney Carley Ahern said Monday she knew Bryson was in jail and has issued an subpoena for her appearance on Sept. 6. Ahern declined to comment on the possibility of granting her immunity for her testimony or of petitioning the court for a material witness order, which is a determination by a judge that she can be held pending her appearance or sworn deposition if there is reason to believe she won't appear.

"I'm not worried," Ahern said, saying she has been in constant contact with the Tilton Police.

While Sisti has appealed O'Neill's ruling that Watson's statements can be presented to the jury, he has filed a motion to mitigate them in the event he loses the appeal.

During the motion hearing, the entire 30-minute police interview was played and Sisti claims that police made "numerous inflammatory statements" to Watson during the exchange.

Sisti claims police indicated that Watson was "cold-hearted and lacks remorse." He said police drew a number of conclusions during their interview that are more "prejudicial than probative," or more inflammatory than evidence-based.

He has asked that none of those statements, including police questions about what Watson would say to Tilton-Fogg's parents, should be presented to the jury.

"None of these comments made by police during the course of the interrogation of Mr. Watson are relevant and can only cause the defendant to be looked upon as evil, cold-hearted and immoral," Sisti wrote.

Jury selection is scheduled for Sept. 12.

Jeanie Forrester hosts annual picnic as she runs for governor

By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN

MEREDITH — For the past six years, Jeanie Forrester has treated her friends to a picnic at the Wicwas Grange and this year, when she reminded some 40 guests on Sunday "You may have heard I'm running for governor," was no exception.

Forrester, who is completing her third term in the New Hampshire Senate, is among four Republicans — Ted Gatsas, the mayor of Manchester, Executive Councilor Chris Sununu and Rep. Frank Edelblut — competing for the gubernatorial nomination in the primary election on Sept. 13.

Forrester is bidding to become both the first candidate from Belknap County ever to be elected governor and the first Republican woman ever to be elected governor. Three times she has carried Senate District 2 , which consists of 27 towns in Belknap, Grafton and Merrimack counties, and in 2014 captured nearly two-thirds of the vote. After weeks of campaigning around the state, especially in its most heavily populated reaches, on Sunday she returned to her stronghold less to court voters than to express her thanks.

Forrester's constituents contributed $88,840 or 43 percent of the $207,730 she has raised, according to the report of receipt and expenditures filed last week. She is the only GOP candidate to pledge not to spend more than $1.25 million on her campaign. Among her rivals, Gatsas has raised more than $1 million, including $75,000 from his own pocket, Sununu has raised $645,971 and Edelblut has raised only about $80,000 while contributing $750,000 to his own campaign.

Speaking briefly, Forrester remarked that her decision to run for governor prompted some to ask "Why would you want to do that?" She explained that when she ran for the Senate she believed that state government has taken too much power from and wielded too much power over cities and towns.

"I wanted to be a voice for our communities," she declared. "I'm not from the establishment. I work for you and you keep me honest."

As governor, she said she would continue to serve the people of New Hampshire. Forrester cut her remarks short, referring her listeners to four plans to address major issues posted on her website. She named the opioid epidemic, jobs and the economy and health care, then laughed as in a Rick Perry moment she forgot the fourth, a proposal to reform state government.

The Tim Keefe of Plymouth, on guitar, set the populist tone of Forrester's campaign to music by inviting everyone to join his rendition of "I Dream of Jeanie in the Governor's Chair," to the tune of Stephen Foster's classic. "We know our Jeanie and just where she stands," they sang, "Life, truth and justice, these are in her plans. Bold and powerful the pundits they proclaim with Jeanie as our leader prosperity will reign. She's an outsider that we really need, dearly loves New Hampshire.  She's proven she can lead. I dream of Jeanie in the governor's chair. She is for the people and she really, really cares."

Wearing jeans and bright red top, for the most part Forrester set politicking aside in favor of drawing raffle tickets for a chance to honor a friend by flying a flag over the United States Capitol and lending a hand as children swung to burst a piñata laden with candy, and tossed balls to dunk Mike Pelczar, a Meredith selectman in a tub of cold water. For Forrester Sunday was less a day for campaigning than for renewing the friendships that have brought her to the brink of the state's highest office over hot dogs and ice cream.

08-30 Tim Keefe plays guitar

Tim Keefe of Plymouth reworked an old Stephen Foster classic to contain the lyrics "I dream of Jeanie in the governor's chair." (Michael Kitch/Laconia Daily Sun)

08-30 Jeanie Forester at picnic

Jeanie Forrester had a good laugh over the lyrics to Tim Keefe's song. (Michael Kitch/Laconia Daily Sun)

Judge revokes bail for man accused of sexual assault

By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — Bail has been revoked for a city man who is charged with six counts of sexually assaulting a girl who was under the age of 13 after he allegedly sold a single strip of suboxone to a confidential informant working for the police.

The alleged sale, however, has the Public Defender's Officer questioning whether the sale was a set-up used by the state simply to revoke his bail.

Belknap County Assistant Attorney Adam Woods said Randy Nadeau, 33, of or formerly of 153 Union Ave., used a pickup belonging to his girlfriend's father to go to Center Street near Wyatt Park, where he allegedly sold the strip for $40.

Though Nadeau has not been charged with anything related to the alleged sale, it gave the state a reason to petition the court to have his bail revoked. Following a series of hearings and motions that culminated in a hearing in the Belknap County Superior Court earlier this month, Nadeau was returned to jail, where he awaits trial.

Nadeau was indicted by a grand jury for six counts of sexual assault in January. On Feb. 3, he entered a "not guilty" plea in Superior Court and was ordered held on $5,000 cash bail, which he posted on March 15.

Like all those released on bail, there was a requirement that he keep a current address on record, that he stay away from his alleged victim, that he remain free of alcohol and non-prescribed drugs, and that he not have any negative contact with any law enforcement agency.

Nadeau is facing a separate charge for possession of heroin/fentanyl in Gilford on Jan. 8, but since that charge preceded his indictment for sexual assault, it cannot be used for purposes of bail revocation.

According to court documents and the testimony of a Laconia narcotics detective, police allegedly learned Nadeau was selling suboxone – a drug given by prescription under certain circumstances to help opium addicts with withdrawal and cravings with the goal of living drug-free.

Police arranged to have the informant meet Nadeau and to have him or her purchase a single strip of suboxone. They say the sale was completed. Wood filed a motion to revoke Nadeau's bail on June 7.

Nadeau filed a motion asking for information relevant to the alleged sale, saying that he is entitled to confront his accuser and to ascertain a motive for the sale.

In the motion, attorney Eric Wolpin asked for a written description of how the information came to the attention of the police, any and all recordings made by the police during the alleged transaction, and any and all photographs taken during the transaction that was allegedly recorded and witnessed by police.

Wolpin's said that because Nadeau is potentially losing his right to be free before trial, he is entitled to the same basic constitutional rights as others who are accused of a crime, namely his Sixth Amendment right to confront his accuser, his Fifth Amendment right to a fair trial or hearing and his 14th Amendment Right to due process.

He said Nadeau is entitled learn the motive of the informant, his or her credibility, and the details of the alleged sale, which were provided in the form of tapes that Wolpin claims are inconclusive.

More importantly, Wolpin said his client has a right to know if the confidential informant is connected to the underlying rape case.

Judge James O'Neill ruled that in this instance, Nadeau is not entitled to the same protections as someone accused of a crime and cited numerous U.S. Supreme Court rulings that determined, for the purpose of a bail hearing, he is not entitled to confront his accuser.

He granted Nadeau a hearing, which he said should be allowed, and during which Wolpin questioned the detective but was blocked from asking him any questions related to the identity or motive of the informant.

Following the hearing, O'Neill ordered Nadeau taken into custody, where he remains at the Belknap County House of Corrections without bail. His trial is scheduled for a jury selection on Sept. 26.

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