Lafond defense asks to continue trial for 90 days

LACONIA — The attorney representing Amy Lafond, the Laconia woman charged with manslaughter and negligent homicide for allegedly driving into two teenage girls — killing one and injuring the other — is asking the Belknap County Superior Court to delay her trial for 90 days.

Lafond's case, stemming from the incident last April 19, is currently scheduled to begin with a pre-trail conference on Jan. 14 and the selection of a jury on Feb. 3.

Mark Sisti, who was retained to defend Lafond in November, told the court yesterday that he is already scheduled to try cases in Merrimack County Superior Court beginning on Jan. 6 and in Rockingham County Superior Court beginning on Feb. 3.

Belknap County Attorney Melissa C. Guldbrandsen has assented to the request to continue the proceedings. Justice James D. O'Neill III has yet to rule. In October, the Superior Court narrowed the grounds for granting continuances in criminal cases in order to avoid unnecessary delays that unduly waste the time and resources of the court and litigants. However, these guidelines do not address scheduling conflicts like those Sisti has cited.

Lilyanna Johnson and Allyssa 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. on April 19. Lafond was traveling northbound on Messer Street toward the intersection with Opechee Street. A car going in the same direction had stopped at the crosswalk, apparently to allow some 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.
In charging manslaughter, a Class A felony, the state alleges that LaFond recklessly caused the death of 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 3 1/2 to seven years in prison. Lafond is also charged with second-degree assault, also a Class B felony, with a sentence of 3 1/2 to seven years, for injuring Miner.
Lafond pled not guilty to the charges when she was arraigned on Sept. 25 and was subsequently indicted by a Belknap County Grand Jury on Oct. 3. Since her arraignment she has been held in lieu of bail of $50,000 cash or $100,000 corporate surety.