Commissioners to pay for chair’s defense against Burchell

LACONIA — Belknap County Commissioners yesterday agreed to pay a $3,640.50 bill from Attorney Paul Fitzgerald for representing Commission Chairman Dave DeVoy (R-Sanbornton) in a court case brought by fellow commissioner Richard Burchell (R-Gilmanton) against the other two commissioners challenging their ouster of him as chairman in early March.
The commission also voted to reimburse DeVoy $1,000 for the retainer he had paid to have Fitzgerald represent him in the court case. Commissioner Hunter Taylor (R-Alton), who is himself an an attorney and was also named as a defendant, represented himself in the case. The total legal expenses for the county amounted to $4,640.50.
Burchell was elected chairman of the commission on January 8 of this year, but soon found himself at odds with his colleagues, who not only questioned his approach to managing the affairs of the county but also said that his temperament crippled the work of the commission. At a stormy meeting on March 2, DeVoy and Taylor voted to reorganize the commission by replacing Burchell as chairman with DeVoy and elected Taylor as vice-chairman and Burchell as clerk. Burchell turned to the court seeking reinstatement.
Burchell's request to remain as chairman was denied by Judge James D. O'Neill III, who ruled in early April that the county commission is bound by majority rule and that the power to appoint carries with it the power to remove, concluding that the election of new officers complied with the law.
DeVoy earlier this year said that it was not his point to have to go to court to defend his action in ousting Burchell as chairman and that it had been brought about by Burchell's own action in refusing to acknowledge the right of the majority of the commission to change chairmen.
During yesterday's meeting at the Belknap County Complex, at which Burchell was not present but participated by speakerphone, Burchell continued to maintain that there was no basis in law for the decision ousting him and said that his legal fees should also be the responsibility of the county.
But Taylor said ''one of these bills is a legitimate'', pointing out that DeVoy's defense was authorized by a majority vote of the commission while Burchell's was the result ''of one commissioner acting alone.''

Planning board approves warehouse, parking lot

LACONIA — The Planning Board this week approved two commercial projects in the South End, a pervious parking lot on South Main Street and a large warehouse on Frank Bean Road.

Mr. C's Taxi will add the parking lot, which has spaces for ten cars, to their 0.32-acre property at 118 South Main Street. Much of the property lies within the 75-foot buffer to Durkee Brook at the rear of the property. The use of pervious pavement will minimize and filter the stormwater run-off from the parking lot to mitigate adverse impacts on the water quality of the brook.

GEI Holdings, LLC, owned by Raymond Reed, is constructing a fourth storage building on its 2.4-acre lot at 136 Frank Bean Road. There are three storage buildings on the site, one of 7,530 square feet, another of 4,084 square feet and a third of 2,280 square feet as well as an office and repair shop. The new building will be 4,000 square feet and is intended to be leased to a contractor to store equipment and materials.

Durgin's Motion for DNA testing denied by court (370)

LACONIA — A Belknap County Judge ruled last week that a man who was convicted of negligent homicide for the 2011 beating and kicking death of Leo LaPierre had not provided sufficient evidence to have his motion granted for DNA testing of items from a room at the trailer where the incident took place.
It was the seventh time that Jason Durgin, 41, has filed a motion with the court in connection with case.
In a hand-written motion Durgin offered to pay for DNA testing of a samples from a bloody pillowcase, bloody bed sheets and a bloody pool cue which were in the bedroom of a woman who lived in the trailer.
The state Attorney General's office replied to the motion and pointed out that Durgin did not choose to have those samples tested prior to the trial.
In June 2012 a Belknap County jury convicted Durgin of negligent homicide for the 2011 beating and kicking death of LaPierre – a transient who occasionally stayed in the trailer Durgin rented behind Quik Laundry on South Main Street.
LaPierre was found unconscious by some friends of one of Durgin's other roommates and she called the police. He was taken to Lakes Region General Hospital and flown to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon where he died about six days later without regaining consciousness.
When police first arrived at the home around 9:30 a.m., Durgin and his roommate refused to come out of the trailer. The roommate testified at his trial that he held her down on the bed and refused to let her go to the door and speak with the police. Eventually the two came out of the trailer without further incident.
The roommate also testified that the night before, she saw Durgin punch and kick LaPierre during an argument.
After his conviction, Durgin received the maximum sentence of 3½ to 7 years in State Prison. Credited with 406 days of pre-trial confinement, Durgin served 2½ years and was released on parole on Nov. 13, 2014.
In December of 2013, the N.H. Supreme Court upheld Durgin's conviction in a unanimous decision. He had argued that his defense team had been prohibited from offering an alternative theory of the crime and that one of the witnesses against him had allegedly unlawfully used his EBT card.