Lafond trial ordered to proceed on schedule

LACONIA — On Christmas Eve, Justice James D. O'Neill,III denied the request of attorney Mark Sisti, who is defending Amy Lafond against charges of manslaughter and negligent homicide, to delay her trail for 90 days and reaffirmed that the final pre-trial conference will be held on January 13 and the jury will be selected on February 3, all as originally scheduled.

In seeking the postponement, Sisti told the court he was scheduled to try criminal cases in Merrimack County County Superior Court beginning on January 13 and in Rockingham County Superior Court on February 3. In denying the request, O'Neill held that the schedule for Lafond's trial was set on October 3 and took precedent over Sisiti's other appearances. Originally Lafond was represented by the New Hampshire Public Defenders office and retained Sisti on November 22, well after the trial was scheduled.

The charges against Lafond, 52, arose 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.

In a separate ruling, O'Neill granted the request of Belknap County Attorney Melissa C. Guldbrandsen to consolidate all the charges against Lafond into a single trial. In charging manslaughter the state alleges that LaFond recklessly caused the death of Johnson by driving while distracted at an excessive speed after consuming drugs. She was also indicted on two alternative theories of negligent homicide 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." Lafond is also charged with second-degree assault for injuring Miner. In addition, Lafond is charged with possession of a narcotic drug and possession of a controlled drug without a valid prescription as well as traffic violations.

Gulbrandsen claimed that it would be appropriate to consolidate all the charges since they stem from the same alleged circumstances and investigation. The defense did not object to her request.