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Mark Sisti to defend Amy Lafond

LACONIA — Amy Lafond, the woman who struck two teenage girls on Messer Street on April 19, killing Lilyanna Johnson and severely injuring Allyssa Miner, while driving her Jeep Cherokee, has retained Mark Sisti, a prominent criminal attorney from Gilmanton, to defend her against charges of manslaughter, negligent homicide, assault and wrongful possession of a prescription medication.

Sisti will replace John Bresaw and Justin Littlefield of the New Hampshire Public Defenders Office. Justice James D. O'Neill, III postponed a disposition hearing scheduled for December 13, at which the case would be put on track to either enter a plea bargain or go to trial. Currently the case is scheduled for trial early next year, with a final pre-trial conference on January 13 and selection of a jury on February 3.

Lafond pled not guilty to the charges when she was arraigned on September 25 and was subsequently indicted by a Belknap County Grand Jury on October 3. Since her arraignment she has been held in lieu of bail of $50,000 cash or $100,000 corporate surety.

In charging manslaughter, a class A felony, the state alleges that LaFond recklessly caused the death of Lilyanna Johnson by driving while distracted at an excessive speed after consuming drugs. Manslaughter carries a maximum sentence of 15 to 30 years in prison. Alternatively, she was indicted on two alternative theories of negligent homicide, both class B felonies, one for "failing to maintain a proper lookout" and the other for "failing to pay due attention while operating a motor vehicle after having consumed drugs." As class B felonies the negligent homicide charges carry maximum sentences of three-and-a-half seven years in prison.

Johnson and Miner were struck while on the sidewalk at the crosswalk at the south end of the Messer Street Bridge at approximately 2:30 p.m. Lafond was traveling northbound on Messer Street toward its intersection with Opechee Street. A car going in the same direction had stopped at the crosswalk, apparently to enable a number of middle school students standing at the corner to cross the street. Lafond is alleged to have skirted the stopped car, crossed into the southbound lane of Messer Street and mounted the raised sidewalk, hitting the two girls.

 
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