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New lawyers for Amy LaFond seek to delay Feb. 3 start to her trial

LACONIA — The attorneys 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 — in April, will seek more time to prepare for trial, which is scheduled to begin with the selection of a jury on February 3.

Justice James D. O'Neill, III opened a brief hearing in Belknap County Superior Court yesterday by confirming that the state, as required, offered a plea arrangement, but the defense has made no counter offer. Jared Bedrick of the Sisti Law Offices, whose lead attorney Mark Sisti was retained by Lafond just last week, told the court that his office has not had sufficient time to review the case and respond to the offer.

Aware that a final pretrial conference is scheduled for January 14, Bedrick said that the defense would file a motion for continuance to allow sufficient time for discovery and depositions, which he expected would be complete by the end of January. County Attorney Melissa Countway Guldbrandsen told the court that she was not agreeing to rescheduling.

Yesterday's dispositional hearing was intended to determine if the case will be resolved by a court trial or plea bargain. Bedrick assured the court that a motion for continuance will be filed no later than Monday. However, in October, in order to expedite proceedings, the Superior Court introduced guidelines narrowly limiting the grounds for granting continuances.

Lilyanna Johnson and Allysa 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 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.

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 three-and-a-half seven years in prison. Lafond is also charged with second degree assault, also a class B felony with a sentence of three-and-a-half to seven years, for injuring Miner. 

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. She appeared in court yesterday wearing a green jail uniform.

Last Updated on Saturday, 14 December 2013 01:34

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Pub Mania aims to top incredible $165,300 raised for Children's Auction in 2012

GILFORD — Laconia Mayor Mike Seymour may be stepping down from his official post early next year, but he'll continue to serve as the honorary mayor of Pub Mania, the popular WLNH Children's Auction event which got underway yesterday.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the fifth annual Pub Mania at Patrick's Pub & Eatery yesterday, Seymour agreed to a request from Alan Beetle of Patrick's Pub that he stay on as ''Pub Mania Mayor.''
Beetle made the request after Seymour had read a proclamation which proclaimed yesterday as ''Pub Mania Day'' and cited Seymour's many contributions to both as Pub Mania and the Children's Auction during his four years as mayor.
During his opening remarks Seymour said that the work of the Children's Auction continues year round and that the funds that are raised help deal with real problems.
''How many families are sending kids to school who aren't dressed properly? And how many kids are going to bed both cold and hungry at night? Don't kid yourself. Those things are happening right here in our community.'' said Seymour.
''Even the best fall down some time. Helping them back up by giving them a hand is something we can be proud of doing,'' said Seymour, who added that all those taking part in Pub Mania can be proud of what they're doing on behalf of the community.
He singled out auction volunteer Lisa Cornish for her support, noting that she had once been a beneficiary of support from the auction and was now an ambassador for the event, helping to organize and raise funds for the event.
Since Pub Mania joined the Children's Auction, it has grown almost fourfold to become its largest single contributor. The event raised $47,000 in 2009, $60,000 in 2010, $110,700 in 2011 and $165,300 last year, a total of $384,000 in four years.
In addition to the money raised, the event collected 5,724 food items for the local food pantry at St. Vincent de Paul.
Inspired by Cycle Mania at the Laconia Athletic & Swim Club, where relay teams kept the wheels of stationary cycle spinning for 24 hours, Pub Mania involves some 720 competitors, whom Beetle refers to as ''culinary athletes.'' The event features 30 teams of 24 members apiece. Each team is assigned one of the stools ringing the bar at Patrick's Pub, where each of its members sits for one hour, gathering pledges from those who support their team. Each team must raise at least $1,000.
Meanwhile, Pub Maniacs are treated to live music, poetry readings, comedy hours, talent contests, karaoke, barstool yoga and arts and crafts. A crew of referees may award teams points for their participation and performance in contests or dock them points for leaving a stool empty or overstaying their leave as well as conduct "contrary to the spirit of Pub Mania."
The WLNH Children's Auction is held every December. After raising $2,100 in its first year over 31 years ago, the Children's Auction has now raised over $2 million dollars. 100 percent of the funds are donated to local charities focusing on children's basic needs.
Warren Bailey, who is credited with starting the auction, said it has grown over the years from its humble beginnings to the point where it has become ''a snowball of love'' each year.
He recalled one of the early auctions when it was held in downtown Laconia and was broadcast only on the radio.
''It was a freezing cold day and a woman and her young child were there with no boots and no winter coat. We we were able to get them clothes and someone said to me 'by the way, her mother is a druggy.' Some 25 years later a woman in her 30s who works at Wall Street brokerage firm in the Boston area came up to me at the auction and gave me a big check. She said 'here's my check. It's time to give back.' I realized it was that little girl from years ago. When I asked about her mother she told me that she had died some years later of a drug overdose,'' said Bailey.
Enthusiasm remains high for the Pub Mania event according to Tony Felch of the Cafe DejaVu team, which last year topped all teams by raising $18,000.
''We held our first fundraiser for this year's Pub Mania in March. Next year we'll be starting with an event on Feb. 1 for the 2014 Pub Mania. It's a great event, lots of fun and a wonderful way to help the community.''

Last Updated on Friday, 13 December 2013 02:50

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Vandal(s) take aim at downtown windows with BB gun(s)

LACONIA — Police said vandals shot BB gun pellets through the windows of three downtown merchants sometime Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning.

600 Main Street owner John Moriarty said yesterday that the most damage appears to have been done to Raymond Photographic Artist, a framing and photography shop, which had to replace an 8-foot by 8-foot sized window.

Moriarty said vandals also shot a hole through the window at LaBelle's Shoe Repair and one of his windows.

He said he was kind of hopeful that his window could be repaired but said it was unlikely the other two windows could be. He said Raymond already removed his plate glass and put a piece of plywood over the window.

"It's too bad," he said.

Anyone with any information is asked to call the Laconia Police at 524-5252 or the Greater Laconia Crime Line at 524-7171.

Last Updated on Friday, 13 December 2013 02:31

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Fire drives family from home in isolated west Meredith

MEREDITH — Three people, including a child, are temporarily homeless after a first-alarm fire damaged their Eagle Ledge home Wednesday night.

Deputy Chief Andre Kloetz said yesterday that a female adult was home alone around 11 p.m. when she smelled something unusual that could have been creosote.

She saw a fire where the stove pipe went through the first-floor ceiling and into the second floor and attic She called 9-1-1.

Kloetz said the first crews on the scene were from Meredith and Sanbornton and they were met with "a lot of fire" in the attic. He said the fire has spread through a first floor closet.

"The initial crews got a nice knockdown," said Kloetz who said Eagle Ledge is a good distance into the rural west area of town about 3/4 of a mile from Black Brook Road and Kaulback Road in Sanbornton.

He said Sanbornton Chief Paul Dexter called for a first alarm bringing New Hampton and Holderness firefighters and water to Eagle Ledge and sending Laconia crews to Black Brook Road to set up the dry-hydrant in case more water was needed.

Kloetz said in his opinion the house is repairable. He said the fire charred the attic rafters but that much of the damage was done by heat, smoke, and water. "the skeleton of the house is still solid," he said.

One firefighter fell through the second floor to the first floor but Kloetz said he "was pretty nimble" and fortunately landed on his feet.

Kloetz said two cats escaped the flames. He said the woman was staying with friends.

He said Chief Ken Jones and the N.H. Fire Marshal's Office is investigating the cause of the fire, which appears to be accidental.

Last Updated on Friday, 13 December 2013 02:28

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