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Sisti asks for another delay to start of Lafond trial

LACONIA — Attorney Mark Sisti, who represents Amy Lafond against charges that her reckless and negligent driving caused the death of one teenage girl and severely injured another on Messer Street nearly a year ago, has again asked the Belknap County Superior to delay her trail, which is scheduled to begin with jury selection on May 5.

In a motion filed last week Sisti told the court that he had recently received information from at least three different witnesses and would require additional time to review it. He said that he has informed Belknap County Attorney Melissa C. Guldbrandsen, who informed him she has no position with respect to his request.

The final pre-trial conference in the case is scheduled for Wednesday, April 16 at 8:30 a.m.

The trial was originally scheduled to begin with jury selection on February 3, but in January Sisti, who was retained as defense counsel on November 22, successfully argued that the schedule did not afford him enough time to either "relate competent advice to his client with regard to the decision whether to plead guilty (or) to proceed to trial — let alone represent her at trial." Referring to the right to a fair trial guaranteed by the state and federal constitutions, he concluded that "to go forward ensures the defendant deficient representation that will undoubtedly spur unnecessary litigation."

At the time Guldbrandsen did not contest the request. "I do see my duty to ensure she gets a competent defense," said Guldbrandsen, agreeing that the case is complex and technical. "It's my duty to see she gets a fair trial." However, when Justice James D. O'Neill, III asked her how the victims' families felt about an extension, she replied that " they are frustrated" and submitted a memorandum expressing their desire that the trial go forward as soon as possible.
Lafond, 53, is charged with manslaughter and two counts of negligent homicide arising from an incident on April 19 when she allegedly drove into two teenage girls who were on a sidewalk bordering Messer Street, killing Lilyanna Johnson and seriously injuring Allyssa Miner. She is also charged with several drug offenses and traffic violations.

Last Updated on Saturday, 12 April 2014 12:26

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Gilford BudCom will invite residents to volunteer to serve as its 12th member

GILFORD — The Budget Committee voted unanimously last night to advertise for interested candidate who would be willing to serve the final year of the vacancy created when Richard "Rags" Grenier was elected selectman.

The special meeting was called last night by Chair Phyllis Corrigan because she wanted the Budget Committee to be at full strength before the summer vacation season scattered the members.

Typically, the Budget Committee begins its review of the annual proposed budget in October however occasionally an item will arise over the summer that requires the committee's attention.

After convening the meeting, Corrigan told the members that state law stipulates that if a Budget Committee elects its members, then it is up to the committee to determine how the seat will be filled. Since the number of members was set at 12 by annual Town Meeting, the committee must fill the spot said Town Administrator Scott Dunn.

There was some initial discussion, initially broached by School Board representative Karen Thurston, about filling the seat with Scott Davis — the candidate who finished fourth of five in the last month's election.

Most other members were against that, saying that in the past vacancies have been filled by asking for letters of interest followed by a public interview and a vote by existing members.

Corrigan said she hasn't heard of anyone who is interested, however fifth place finisher David "Skip" Murphy was at last night's meeting as an observer and said he is still interested in serving.

Thurston, who herself went through the same process when she was appointed to fill the balance of a term on the School Board, said she wanted people to know that the interview process is not "an interrogation."

Member Sue Greene agreed saying that she didn't want people to be intimidated about the public session and that it is a reasonably casual thing.

For the two years Grenier was on the board, his vote was often a swing vote in what can be called a philosophically divided Budget Committee. Rarely has the Budget Committee completely agreed on an issue except for the recent unanimously vote to support the renovation of the Gilford Police Station. Grenier will continue on the Budget Committee as the selectman's representative.

The deadline for letters of interest is May 8 and they should be sent to the Gilford Town Offices. The Budget Committee will meet on May 15 at 7 p.m. to select its 12th member.

In other business, the committee voted unanimously to re-elected Corrigan as chair. Kevin Leandro was elected as vice chair by vote of nine-to-one.

Last Updated on Friday, 11 April 2014 12:56

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Young man charged with armed robbery of his neighborhood store

SANBORNTON — A local man is being held on $100,000 cash-only bail after being charged Wednesday for the attempted armed robbery of the Sanbornton General Store on Tuesday night.

Police affidavits obtained from the 6th Circuit Court, Franklin Division said Aric Camire, 20, of 522 New Hampshire Road allegedly entered the store Tuesday at 7:55 p.m. wearing a black ski mask, a black and white camouflage cap, and a black hooded sweatshirt. Police noted the store typically closes at 8 p.m.

Police said surveillance footage shows Camire had something silver in his hand that he placed it in his back pocket once he entered the store. They said video shows him walking around the back of the counter, yanking out the telephone cord and going over to the register and attempt to open it.

The clerk was apparently in another part of the store.

Police said a male customer entered and both he and the female clerk said the robber ran out the front door of the business which fronts Route 127 (New Hampton Road) but uses a door off the parking lot as its primary entrance.

The man told police he followed the would-be robber, who ran across New Hampton Road and up a hill.

Sanbornton Police notified other area police to be looking for a runner while a Gilford K-9 and his handler followed the trail that led them from the store at 666 New Hampton Road through the wood and to the back of 522 New Hampton Road. Camire lives there with his mother.

The house was dark and no one answered the door so police secured the property and obtained a search warrant. Officers were able to see two pair of wet blue jeans in a pile on the back deck.

Warrant in hand, Sanbornton Police entered the home and found a single thin black glove similar to the ones worn by the would-be robber in the store video. Police also found two semi-automatic pistol magazines. They said no one was in the home.

On Wednesday police interviewed a woman who lives at the home and who had been in contact with Camire around 9 p.m. She told police he arrived at home at 8:15 p.m. and that he was wearing a pair of pants that were too big for him, which she thought was unusual.
The woman said she had seen a number of police officers in the area and had asked Camire if he had done anything wrong.

She told police he said he hadn't but that she would learned more the next day. When police interviewed Camire, he gave them what they said was contradictory information about where he was the night of the attempted robbery.

On Wednesday, Sanborton Police retraced the track taken by the K-9 the night before and found a loaded 9 mm pistol and a large fixed blade knife near the roadway. One of the officers recognized the knife as one he had taken from Camire on an earlier occasion. About 100 feet away from the knife and the magazine, they also found a chrome Taurus 9 mm handgun with the magazine missing that had one round in the chamber.

Further down the track, police found a white and black camouflage hat and a black ski mask. Even further down the track they found a single thin black glove much like the one they found the night before at Camire's home.

During a subsequent interview, Camire denied any involvement in the botched robbery and invoked his right to speak to an attorney.

In court yesterday, Camire appeared by video and Judge Edward "Ned" Gordon approved his application for a court-appointed attorney. Camire appeared without a lawyer and didn't challenge the state's request for $100,000 cash bail.

Camire has a probable cause and a bail hearing scheduled for April 21 at 1 p.m. in Franklin.

Last Updated on Friday, 11 April 2014 12:51

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Heritage Commission wants ordinance with bigger teeth

LACONIA — In hopes of protecting and preserving historic buildings in the city, the Heritage Commission will propose amending the demolition ordinance to apply to a wider range of properties as well as to allow more time to mount preservation efforts.

When the commission met this week Planning Director Shanna Saunders presented a draft prepared in conjunction with Pam Clark, who has chaired the panel since its inception in 2004. Saunders said that she drew on similar ordinances enacted by other cities and towns, both in and beyond New Hampshire.

The commission will make its recommendation to the Planning Board, which in turn must seek the approval of the City Council to any change in the ordinance.

Although the Heritage Commission was established in 2003, it was not assigned a role in the demolition process until 2008. The current ordinance provides for the commission to review the application to demolish any building of more than 700-square-feet or structure of any size that is not a building, which is more than 75 years old and visible from a public street. If the commission finds the structure is not significant, the demolition may proceed.

However, if the Heritage Commission deems the it structure significant, it shall schedule a public hearing, to which the owner of the property is invited, to explore alternatives to demolition. If no alternative is found, the commission and owner shall meet within 10 days in a last attempt to reach agreement. Without an agreement to preserve the building, the owner may proceed to raze it while the Heritage Commission, with the consent of the owner, can photograph and document the building as well as encourage the owner to salvage any of its important architectural features.

The commission is considering four major changes to the existing ordinance. The first would add a preamble, or statement of purpose, affirming that "historic preservation" is an objective of the Master Plan and that demolition of significant structures "should be avoided when possible and practical" and be "an action of last resort."

"Significant" buildings and structures would be defined by five criteria. They would include buildings meeting national or state standards for historical, cultural or architectural landmarks as well as those of "such unusual or uncommon design, texture or materials" that they could only be reproduced with great difficulty or at great expense. Buildings, which if razed, would adversely affect the public interest and those that contribute to preservation of a place of historic interest would also qualify as "significant."

In addition, instead of applying to buildings and structures more than 75 years old, the commission proposes to reduce the minimum age to 50 years and strike the requirement that they be visible from a public right-of-way.

Finally. the amendment would authorize the Heritage Commission, after failing reach agreement with the property owner, to petition the City Council to defer the issuance of a demolition permit for up to 180 days. Drawing on its recent experience with the Hathaway House, the commission believes the additional time would provide an opportunity to find and fund a way to preserve the building or structure.

Last Updated on Friday, 11 April 2014 12:44

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