Franklin man indicted for excavator rampage last March

By BEA LEWIS, for THE LACONIA DAILY SUN

CONCORD — A Franklin man accused of going on a rampage with an excavator and using it to heavily damage a building his mother was attempting to buy is facing felony charges of reckless conduct and criminal mischief.

Jordan Ingram, 29, was indicted by a Merrimack County grand jury when it met on Dec. 15.

According to an affidavit for an arrest warrant, Franklin police responded to a 911 call from Ingram's mother on March 7, reporting that her son was destroying a building that didn't belong to her.

She told police that Denise Dubois drove Ingram to the Tannery Street property in Franklin, at his request after he said he needed to "check something out." Once at the site, he got into a parked excavator, started it and she then heard a window break.

When she looked up, the excavator was by the building and she ran over and told Ingram to stop, but he told her "he had to do it. It was something he had to do." The woman then called Ingram's mother who arrived and talked her son into getting out of the excavator and leaving with the woman who brought him to the property.

When he was arraigned in the Franklin Circuit Court on March 8, the judge pulled the plug on the video feed linking the courtroom with the Merrimack County jail where Ingram was then being held, after the defendant launched into a profanity-laced tirade.

After the video link was restored, Judge Kristin Spath said Ingram had waived his right to participate further in the proceedings as a result of his conduct.

During the hearing, Prosecutor Chris Ahern said Ingram poses a danger to the community, as he is known to Franklin police and has a history of mental health issues. Ingram's mother was in the process of buying the building the defendant is charged with partially destroying with the excavator, Ahern told the judge.

"I didn't drive no mother f– excavator," shouted Ingram, before continuing to spout obscenities directed at the prosecutor, his mother and others.

Ingram is facing a felony charge of criminal mischief (vandalism) for using the heavy equipment to partially destroy a wooden addition connected to a brick building located at 15 Tannery St. belonging to Richard Dubois, causing more than $1,500 in damage.

Ingram whose address is listed a 10 Grove St. in Franklin, in court records, is also charged with felony reckless conduct for using the excavator as a deadly weapon.

Both of the charges are Class B felonies, potentially punishable by a 3 ½ to 7-year prison sentence upon conviction. An indictment is not a finding of guilt, but rather an indication that an independent jury has voted, after hearing from police, that sufficient evidence exists to warrant a Superior Court trial.

12-23 15 Tannery Street 1 12-23 15 Tannery Street 2

Jordan Ingram, 29, of Franklin, is accused of using an excavator to partially raze this Tannery Road building last March. A Merrimack County grand jury recently returned indictments charging him with reckless conduct and criminal mischief. (Bea Lewis/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

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Belmont man charged with opioid possession

By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — A city man caught trespassing at a Spring Street apartment has been charged with one felony count of possession of the pain reliever oxycodone without having a prescription.

Joseph Costello, 24, of 19 Lamprey Road in Belmont was ordered held on $1,000 cash bail after waiving his arraignment in Belknap County Superior Court and entering a plea of not guilty. In addition, there was a warrant for his arrest from the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division for failing to show up for a hearing. Laconia Prosecutor Jim Sawyer said Thursday that he filed for a motion to impose a suspended sentence Costello had from an assault conviction in an unrelated event. He was held on $500 cash bail issued from that court.

Police affidavits said they were called by the owners of the building, who told them that they had evicted some tenants and thought they had returned to the upstairs apartment.

As pne officer went up the steps to the apartment, a second officer saw Costello coming down the back stairs of the apartment. Police learned Costello was wanted on an outstanding warrant.

Affidavits said Costello was search for weapons before being placed in the cruiser and police found a dark colored, translucent plastic case in his pants. Police observed through the case a number of pills and some money.

Costello was taken to the Laconia Police Department where he signed a waiver of his Miranda Rights form and told the police the $30 was his, as were the pills. He allegedly told police he didn't have a prescription and had bought them illegally for pain for a knee injury.

Poison control identified the pills as 15 milligram oxycodone pills.

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Inventory search of car towed by city police is crux of drug case appeal

By BEA LEWIS, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — The Attorney General's Office is continuing its efforts to prosecute a city man on drug sale charges despite a judge's ruling that alleged evidence found by Laconia police when they inventoried the contents of his car before having it towed, cannot be used at trial.

Peter Dauphin, 43, is charged with possession of less than one ounce of methamphetamine with intent to sell, subsequent offense; possession of five ounces or more of methamphetamine with intent to sell and possession of a gram or less of heroin. As he has a prior drug sale conviction, Dauphin could face a maximum sentence of up to life imprisonment if convicted.

On June 17, Assistant Attorney General Jason Casey who is prosecuting the case, filed a motion in Belknap County Superior Court asking that that the proceedings be stayed pending appeal to the New Hampshire Supreme Court, which accepted the case a week later.

Defense attorney Mark Sisti previously successfully argued that Dauphin, not city police, had control of his car when it was towed, and as a result officers had no right to inventory its contents.

In a March 9 ruling, Judge Peter Fauver held it was unreasonable for police to inventory the contents of Dauphin's car on the premise of guarding items from theft from the tow truck driver, or to protect the driver from potentially dangerous objects inside.

Dauphin's Appleton Street home was just 200 feet from where police had pulled him over for speeding and then decided on the defendant's admission that he just bought the car and had not yet registered it in his name, that the existing registration was invalid, requiring that it be towed.

The early model Pontiac Grand Am was neither in police custody nor impounded at the time the search occurred, according to Fauver, holding that the inventory was "otherwise unreasonable because the vehicle inventory did not meaningfully achieve any legitimate non-investigative purpose."

In his brief to the high court, Casey maintains city police acted lawfully when they inventoried the contents of the car that they ordered towed pursuant to the department's written policy, as the vehicle was unregistered.

At issue is the required control police must have over a vehicle in order for an inventory search to be justified under the New Hampshire Constitution.

Casey contends there is no support for Fauver's conclusion that storage at a third-party facility is necessary to trigger a police officer's authority to inventory the contents of a car.

In a case with very similar facts, the Massachusetts Supreme Court upheld a trial court's denial of a defendant's motion to suppress. The justices held that the interests protected by an inventory search are what give rise to an officer's obligation to search an impounded vehicle, regardless of its ultimate destination where towed.

The Bay State court went on to note that "when it is the police who cause the compulsory towage of an impounded vehicle, the fact that the vehicle is being towed to a location of the defendant's choice has no bearing on the property of the search."

Casey points out that in the Commonwealth case the justices referred to the defendant's car as "impounded" in light of the officer's decision to stop the car and remove it from the roadway due to its expired registration.

Because Laconia police had temporarily seized Dauphin's car, summoned a tow truck and directed that the car be towed against the defendant's wishes, the department was reasonably liable for injuries caused by dangerous items inside the car to the tow truck driver, Casey argues.

The prosecutor maintains as the inventory search was both lawful and reasonable under the state Constitution and that Dauphin's arrest was valid, his confession was "untainted by prior illegality" and the justices should overturn Fauver's ruling making the evidence admissible at trial.

In arguing for Fauver's ruling to be upheld, Sisti says the officer's agreement to have the car towed to Dauphin's house and the defendant's expressed ability to pay the ramp truck driver obviated the officer's need to conduct an inventory search.

As police allowed Dauphin and his passenger to remain inside the car and then walk around outside it, Sisti asserts the state's claims that police had a duty to protect the tow truck driver from dangerous items inside the vehicle was a farce.

Dauphin was arrested at the scene of the traffic stop, and when he was searched police found $2,700 in cash.

When interrogated, Dauphin allegedly disclosed that he had more drugs and cash hidden in his home. After obtaining a search warrant, police found $9,940 in cash and nearly eight ounces of crystal meth hidden in a drop ceiling in the master bedroom of Dauphin's home.

He remains free on $65,000 cash bail. The state has previously obtained a forfeiture order to claim $12,000 in cash seized from the defendant as the alleged profits of drug sales.

The state filed its brief in mid-October, and the defense filed late last month. Oral arguments have not yet been scheduled.

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