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Fire in Sanbornton quickly contained

SANBORNTON – A first-alarm fire at a town fire captain's State Road home was quickly extinguished Saturday at 1:35 p.m.

According to a press release from Chief Paul Dexter, when firefighters arrived they observed heavy smoke in the building and coming from the roof area around the home's two chimneys. The house is the residence of Ben Burlingame, a member of the town's fire department, and his family.

The bulk of the fire was contained to the attic and a wall in an addition to the building.

The family is expected to be able to stay in the house.

No cause for the fire has been given.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 24 June 2014 12:32

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2 crashes, one fatality over last weekend of Laconia Motorcycle Week

LACONIA — Police reported two accidents over the past weekend, both involving motorcyclists and one resulting in a death.

At 1:19 a.m. Saturday morning State Police said David Czarnota, 24, of North Reading, Mass. left the west side of Lakeside Avenue near Scenic Drive and crashed. A preliminary investigation indicates speed was a factor.

Czarnota was transported to Lakes Region General Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

At 1:27 a.m. on Sunday, Horace Joyner, 55, of Rocky Mount, N.C. rolled his Trike-style motorcycle after losing control of his vehicle on Route 106 near Right Way Path. Joyner appeared to be slightly injured but was taken by ambulance to Lakes Region General Hospital where emergency room crews determined he had a head injury. He was taken by helicopter to an unidentified hospital in Boston for further treatment. The initial Laconia Police investigation indicates alcohol may have been a factor in the crash.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 24 June 2014 12:37

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Case dropped after judge tosses evidence found in unwarranted search

LACONIA — Prosecutors have dropped a drug case after a Superior Court judge disallowed the search of a former Autumn Road man's residence which police entered after they said had smelled unburnt marijuana.

Unable to introduce any evidence gathered in the course of the unwarranted search, the Belknap County Attorney dropped the case against Benjamin Ricks.

Ricks had been held in the Belknap County House of Corrections for an alleged bail violation and he was released Friday after the state dropped the charges.

In a five-page ruling issued Friday, Judge James O'Neill III ruled in Belknap County Superior Court, that the three things that led a circuit court judge to issue a search warrant of Rick's Tilton home were insufficient to sustain the warrant.

Specifically, O'Neill said neither officer had been trained to detect the difference between fresh and dried marijuana, that three-year-old uncorroborated information from a unnamed confidential informant, and the presence of heavy shades or a ventilation system "does not reasonable lead to the conclusion that a marijuana manufacturing operation was being maintained at the residence."

The search warrant and subsequent arrest of Ricks began on Aug. 21, 2013, with an armed robbery of a convenience store on the corner of Route 3 and Lancaster Road which is about one-half mile as the crow flies southeast from the apartment Ricks was renting on 80 Autumn Drive in Tilton.

Police from Tilton, Sanbornton and a K-9 from Gilford converged at the store and began searching for the male armed robber.

As part of the search, Sanbornton Police took the area along Autumn Drive and noticed Ricks who had been riding his ATV along trails in the wooded area of his rented property. Ricks was not wearing clothing similar to that describe to police by the victim of the armed robbery.

The two officers noticed Ricks and began to follow him down the same trail which lead to a small pond and the back of the house where the apartment Ricks was renting was located. Police found an ATV there but said the engine was cold, indicating it had not be ridden recently.

At a suppression hearing held about three weeks ago, the court learned there was signs indicating the property was somewhat posted for privacy. However, the signs were not signed by the owner. In his ruling, O'Neill didn't address whether or not the police had the right to be on the land.

One of the officers said they began knocking on the doors of a few apartments, but testified that he could smell unburned marijuana when he got to within about 15 feet of the house. The second officer said he didn't smell anything until he knocked on the door. No one answered when they knocked, but they said that from their vantage point outside the home they noticed heavy drapes and what appeared to be a ventilation system.

O'Neill determined that neither officer was trained in the difference between smelling fresh and dried marijuana and the presence of the ventilation system wasn't enough to think there was any illegal activities in the house.

The Sanbornton officers relayed their information back to the Tilton Police, and it was incorporated into a search warrant drafted by Tilton detectives.

One of the detectives testified at the suppression hearing that he had information from a source, that was about three years old, that Ricks had been "growing a lot of weed" at his house. O'Neill determined the the uncorroborated information from the source was irrelevant accord to previous case law.

Ricks declined to be interviewed for the story. His attorney, Catherine Costanzo, said he is back a work.

She said the case is concluded, with the exception of getting back her client's two ATVs and $1,400 that was seized by police during the arrest. Ricks has said the money was from his job as an electrician.

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 24 June 2014 12:16

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Judge agrees couple accused of growing pot on Governors Island has right to depose their landlord

LACONIA — A Belknap County Superior Court judge reversed his own ruling yesterday and determined that the landlord of the man whose Governors Island home was targeted by state police in a marijuana raid must make herself available to him for a deposition and could possibly testify at his trial.

Judge James O'Neill ruled that after hearing more evidence from Corey LaPlante and his lawyer Mark Sisti, that landlord Jennifer Truman's testimony is necessary to his defense.

LaPlante and Sisti say Truman went to LaPlante's rented home at 47 Blueberry Hill Road in October of 2013, twice in two days, but that the first time she went alone and unannounced.

LaPlante argues that she was acting as an agent of the police because after her first visit, she allegedly contacted them and they told her to return to the home with a witness, which he said is a warrant-less search.

Sisti's argument is partially that she claims she saw a water filtration system on her first visit that he said couldn't have been seen without her allegedly trespassing on the property.

Truman said she was there to look at the landscaping and some exterior items because she was planning to sell the property. According to Gilford sssessing documents, the home is still in a trust held by or for the benefit of Truman.

For the second visit, Truman contacted LaPlante and his roommate Janelle Noftle and got permission to visit and enter the home. Sisti said the statements given to police by Truman and her friend were inconsistent and he needs to depose her.

LaPlante and Noftle are each charged with two counts of manufacturing marijuana, two counts of possession of marijuana with intent to distribute it, and out count of possession of marijuana. Although indicted separately, Judge O'Neill has ruled that both will stand trail at the same time.

A few days after the second visit police raided the home and found large amounts of marijuana, hashish, six guns, and $33,000 in cash. Police said there was evidence of a marijuana growing and drug packaging operation.

N.H. Asst. Attorney General James Vara argued that Truman made a statement to the police and that he submitted all of her statements to LaPlante and Sisti so she has nothing more to add.

Truman balked at being deposed or even having her address given to Sisti because she said her home was allegedly the site of a major drug operation and she feared for her life. She lives in Wyoming and also said it would be an huge inconvenience for her to come to New Hampshire, although Sisti has said he would go to her for the deposition if necessary.

Without her address, he said he can't even issue her a subpoena.

In the time since Sisti made his first request to depose Truman but after Judge O'Neill's first ruling, Truman obtained a local attorney.

When Sisti re-argued his request to depose her, he said because she is represented by an attorney, he can't legally contact her.

Last Updated on Saturday, 21 June 2014 12:49

Hits: 529

 
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