By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — A former Northfield man who was scheduled to plead guilty Monday to selling a lethal combination of heroin and fentanyl to a 21-year-old Tilton man withdrew his sealed plea agreement because of new information his lawyer wants to explore.
The unusual twist in the case of Brian Watson, 57, began in October when his attorney, Mark Sisti, learned that a different man currently incarcerated in the Belknap County House of Correction while awaiting trial for rape, let it be known that he wanted to speak to him.
Sisti told the court that the information that Randy Nadeau allegedly has is potentially exculpatory but because Nadeau is represented by his own lawyer, Sisti is unable to speak to him without the court giving its OK.
"My understanding is his information deals directly with Mr. Watson's knowledge of what he believed he was selling," Sisti said.
With Nadeau sitting in the court and Public Defender Jesse Friedman representing him for the Watson case only, Judge James O'Neill told Sisti he couldn't "order" Nadeau to speak to him or anyone else. Sisti said that he only needs the court's permission just to speak to Nadeau because he ethically can't approach him.
In court Monday, Friedman told the court that Nadeau was unwilling to speak to anyone, but Sisti said the information he has could set his client free and there could be some kind of immunity for Nadeau depending on the information.
"I wouldn't be a very good defense attorney if I didn't turn every rock," Sisti said.
Watson is accused of selling Seth Tilton-Fogg heroin laced with fentanyl in April of 2015. Tilton-Fogg was found dead the next morning by his parents.
After a series of failed attempts to eliminate the prosecution's evidence, which includes a taped confession to Tilton Police detectives and a ruling that Watson was properly read his rights before his interrogation, Sisti and Deputy Belknap County Attorney Carley Ahern reached a sealed plea agreement in September.
While the terms of the plea agreement remain unknown to the general public, Sisti wanted that set aside until the Nadeau rape trial could be completed. In a second twist, Nadeau's rape trial ended Monday morning in a mistrial because, said Ahern, the alleged victim gave additional information during her testimony that was not previously revealed to the prosecution or the defense.
O'Neill ordered the plea arrangement be withdrawn and not set aside, meaning that should Nadeau's information not be helpful to Watson and Sisti decides to reach another plea deal with the state, it may have to be negotiated anew.
Without disclosing the former plea arrangement, Tilton-Fogg's father said that he would like to see Watson's sentence be longer than the 20 years given recently to a Portsmouth man in the U.S. District Court, District of New Hampshire for selling a lethal dose of fentanyl to another.
He said he knows nothing is going to bring his son back to him, but said he wants to see a sentence that will punish Watson, prevent him from ever selling drugs again and deter anyone else from selling drugs in the future.
A handcuffed Brian Watson sits in Belknap County Superior Court on Monday, as Tilton Chief of Police Bob Cormier and Detectives who investigated the sale of heroin death resulting case pending against Watson look on. (Bea Lewis/for The Laconia Daily Sun)
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