Country bar to open in downtown


LACONIA — With the twang of electric guitars and a rampaging mechanical bull, country is coming to the city next month when the Whiskey Barrel Bar and Music Hall opens its doors at 546 Main St., last home to the Funky Monkey.

01-17 Whiskey Barrel logoA satellite of the "Barrel" in Haverhill, Massachusetts, owner Bernie Goulet said the nightspot will be just the second country music venue in the Merrimack Valley north of Boston. With capacity for 600 patrons, the Whiskey Barrel will feature live country music performed by local and regional bands and, with an array of flat screen televisions, will also rank among the largest sports bars in the Lakes Region, where fans can enjoy NFL games, NASCAR racing and the Ultimate Fighting Championship on pay per view.

Goulet said the venue will be managed by Matt Menegas, who as a longtime vendor at Laconia Motorcycle Week is no stranger to the city. He said that a "premier sound system," installed by RPM Dynamics, will keep the toes tapping and the joint rocking.

"Tentatively," Goulet said, he expects the venue to open on Friday, Feb. 3, with the familiar strains of the Eric Grant Band, fronted by the popular talent born and bred in Laconia. A week later, Foreigner's Journey will play a tribute to these two classic bands. Ultimate Aldean is scheduled to offer a tribute to the country star on July 1 and, in a change of pace, Slaughter will bring hair metal alloyed with glam, punk and pop rock to Main Street on July 15.

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Final testimony in fatal drug sale case ends with cause of death


LACONIA — Testimony ended in the case against a Northfield man who allegedly sold the fentanyl that killed a 21-year-old Tilton man with the state's chief medical officer saying the cause of death was acute fentanyl poisoning and that the death occurred sometime between late April 2 or early April 3, 2015.

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Thomas Andrew said Seth Tilton-Fogg's autopsy was performed about three hours after his body was found on April 3 and that there were fresh needle marks on both of his feet.

"I saw no other reason for his death," said Andrew.

Brian Watson, 52, of Northfield is charged with selling Tilton-Fogg a lethal dose of fentanyl and could face a sentence of up to life in prison if convicted.

During two days of testimony from Det. Nathan Buffington, the jury learned that Tilton-Fogg had been in contact with someone using a phone registered to Watson. It's members also learned that on the day before his death, Tilton-Fogg had also been in contact with his best friend who was looking for some heroin but Fogg was unable to help him.

The jury also learned that someone who used the name Felicia texted Watson's phone on the same night as Tilton-Fogg and said she passed out for an hour after using some heroin/fentanyl.

The case against Watson has been largely one of the prosecution using telephone records from a phone belonging to Watson to a phone being used by Tilton-Fogg to connect the two people and to provide enough circumstantial evidence to the jury that it was Watson who was using the phone on April 2, not his live-in girlfriend Teanna Bryson, who only had a phone that worked if there was wi-fi available.

The defense's job has been to cast doubt on who the real user of the telephone was and to the identity of who actually sold the drugs to Tilton-Fogg that killed him.

Phone records show that it was Teanna Bryson who knew Tilton-Fogg from high school and who reached out to him when she heard he was using heroin.
Buffington testified Friday and Tuesday that the context of the text messages from Watson's phone changed, citing examples of uses of language like "fire" to describe the heroin and "hon" as a term of endearment used allegedly by her to different words like "this is B" that were allegedly used by him.

Buffington also testified that Bryson was initially the main suspect but they ruled her out when text messages from Watson's phone used words like "my truck" that they attributed to Watson.

Watson's attorney Mark Sisti did not call any witnesses of his own, but used his time during cross examinations to point out discrepancies and assumptions being made by police and prosecutors that point the finger at Watson, but that he says don't rule out Bryson or other people in Tilton-Fogg's life who also sold him drugs.

Watson did not take the stand, although the judge will tell the jury not give that any weight when it comes to deliberations.

Following the close of testimony, Sisti said he would be making a verbal motion Wednesday morning to the judge to prevent the case to go to the jury.

City man pleads guilty to home invasion in August

LACONIA — A city man was sentenced to serve 2 to 4 years in the New Hampshire State Prison for Men for being one of two who committed a home invasion on Messer Street in August.

Zachary Estevez, 20, formerly of Pearl Street, pleaded guilty to one count of armed robbery for entering the home and hitting one of the occupants with a gun.

The victim told police that he was tied up with duct tape, robbed of $800 and hit on the head by Estevez with the butt end of a gun.

Estevez was caught that night by Laconia Police and is being credited with 112 day of pretrial confinement.

A charge of burglary was dropped as a result of the plea bargain. Estevez is ordered to pay the victim $800 in restitution jointly with his co-defendent Ryan chase of Moultonborough.

– Gail Ober