Man found guilty of selling drugs that resulted in death

By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — When she heard the Belknap County jury foreman say "guilty," the mother of a 21-year-old man who died of an fentanyl overdose on April 2, 2015 wept as she realized that the person responsible for selling him the drugs was going to prison for a long time.

01-18 Brian WatsonWhile parents Judy Tilton and Peter Fogg said they wanted to "gather their thoughts" before they made any official statements to the media, the looks on their faces was one of tears and relief as at least part of their nearly two-year long ordeal came to a close Wednesday with 52-year-old Brian Watson's conviction.

"I hope this brings some comfort to the family whose son is gone forever," said Tilton Police Chief Robert Cormier, who complimented his detective team of Nathan Buffington and Bryan Kidd-Keeler for all of the hard work they did putting together the case against Watson.

On Jan. 10, Belknap County Attorney Melissa Guldbrandsen began methodically laying out her case as to why Watson was the only person who could have provided the fentanyl to Seth Tilton-Fogg just an hour before 11:30 p.m. which was the last time his mother or anyone else saw him alive.

With no eyewitnesses to either the sale or the consumption of the drug, she put together the pieces of the puzzle using the digital technology, forensic evidence, and the human nature of the key people involved in the case.

During Wednesday's closing argument, she used that same technology in the form of a PowerPoint presentation aided by her narration of how the "pieces of the puzzle" came together to convince the jury of Watson's guilt, relying on the evidence as it was presented over the six days of trial.

"Melissa gave a great close," said Cormier.

When final arguments ended at noon, Judge James O'Neill gave a short break, read the jury their instructions and sent them into the jury room for lunch and then deliberations.

At 3 p.m., the jury asked to view one more time an interview of Watson while he was being interviewed by Buffington and Kidd-Keeler on May 8, 2015, in the small interview room at the Tilton Police station.

During that interview, Watson never admitted to selling the fentanyl to Tilton-Fogg, but he did say he warned him not to use to much because it was really powerful. Watson also never denied selling it to him, which is one of the things Guldbrandson emphasized to the jury.

Within a half hour of reviewing the video, the jury rendered their guilty verdict.

Guldbrandsen said she was ready to go forward at that moment with sentencing however Watson's attorney said he would need at least two weeks to prepare.

Watson could serve up to life in prison for his conviction of sales of drugs, death resulting. He was also convicted of separate count of sales of drugs.

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Don't bag it - Plastic bags tangle up city's recycling

By DAVID CARKHUFF/THE LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — Bag the trash, not the recycling.
That's the rule of thumb in Laconia, where recycling crews are encountering a "constant problem" of plastic bags tainting bins of recyclables.
"We get a tremendous amount of plastic bags," said Ann L. Saltmarsh, technical administrative assistant and solid waste/recycling coordinator in the Laconia Department of Public Works.
By rule, curbside trash must be contained in bags and those bags loaded inside bins for weekly pickup. In the separate world of recycling, however, where bins are picked up biweekly, plastic bags are not allowed.
Curbside recycling crews will sticker bins that violate the rule, alerting residents that plastic bags are a hazard.
About 40 percent of Laconia residents live in private developments where they use remote drop-off sites. Laconia maintains remote recycling drop-off sites at the transfer station; behind the Lakeport Fire Station; at the Weirs Community Center parking lot; behind the old city garage at 257 Messer St.; and at Lindsey Court, across from the Memorial Park Clubhouse. At those locations, signs are prominently displayed, warning against introducing plastic bags.
"The number of people who just put the bag and all in there is amazing, right next to the sign that says no plastic bags," Saltmarsh said.
"It's the biggest problem at the drop-off spots," she said.
The cost of violating this policy falls on taxpayers, Saltmarsh said. In 2015, the latest year when numbers were available, the city spent $8,500 hauling away things that were dumped in and around the containers and as a result of dumping entire recycling containers as trash because they were contaminated, she reported.
Any recycled materials that end up in the trash stream chip away at savings in trash disposal.
The city pays a contractor to pick up trash at the curb for transport to the transfer station, where it's mixed with trash from Gilford. The trash goes to an incinerator.
This entire process costs $150 a ton.
"If you have recycling, you take that weight out of the waste stream, so that's where the cost savings comes in, $150 a ton," Saltmarsh said.
When plastic bags and other prohibited items taint a load of recycling, the trash stream gets heavier.
Bags also pose a risk to equipment. Laconia operates single-stream recycling, meaning items are not sorted by category but collected together.
"The single-stream sorting facility is a huge warehouse, and basically a dump trailer pulls up full of loose recycling, puts it into a hopper," Saltmarsh explained. "A loader bucket literally picks it up and dumps it into a chute. It's sorted mechanically from that point. So plastic bags tangle up in the mechanics. They also have optic readers so they're looking for certain kinds of recycling, and if a plastic bag is floating over the top of the conveyor belt, then the optic reader can't do its job."
Violators can be brazen. One recent scofflaw left an entire kitchen counter at one drop-off site. Plastic bags of trash and yard waste, televisions, computer parts — all end up in the recycling drop-off locations, Saltmarsh said. Cameras record these violators, and police often follow up on the evidence, she said.
The pace of violations is likely to only increase as recycling continues to grow in popularity.
Twenty-five years ago, the city recycled 200 tons of trash. Now, Laconia is up to nearly 2,000 tons of recycling, Saltmarsh said.
Last year, the city collected nearly 1,100 tons of trash curbside and 663 tons at remote locations for a total of 1,760 tons, according to Public Works.
So if a resident has a bag of aluminum cans to dump into a recycling container, Saltmarsh asks that they keep the bag, leave the cans.
"It's just as easy to open the bag and put the (cans) in the container," she said.
For details about the recycling program, visit http://www.cityoflaconianh.org and click on "Departments" and "Public Works."

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Ann L. Saltmarsh, technical administrative assistant and solid waste/recycling coordinator in the Laconia Department of Public Works points out the plastic bags holding recyclables, which makes it impossible for the city to recycle that load. (David Carkhuff/Laconia Daily Sun)

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Serious crash closes bypass

There was a very serious crash on the Laconia Bypass tonight. Two cars involved, two people have been transported to the hospital. The Bypass is closed from Gilford Avenue to Lakeshore Road. Gilford police said the state police are on scene. The crash is believed to be weather-related. The road may be closed for a few more hours. (posted at 10:30 p.m.)

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