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Gilford police chief on paid administrative leave

GILFORD — Town officials are being tight-lipped about why Police Chief Kevin Keenan is on paid administrative leave.

Town Administrator Scott Dunn said yesterday that Keenan, who has been chief for the past two years, was placed on leave after a discussion held in a non-public session. He declined to say when the non-public meeting was held. Keenan has been on leave since Aug. 29

When asked yesterday if anyone else in the Gilford Police Department was on administrative leave, Dunn said, "That's a good question. Not at the moment."

When asked if Keenan still has his department-issued car, Dunn said, "All of the municipal vehicles are available for the use of on-duty personnel." Dunn said he wouldn't comment on whether Keenan still had his department-issued badge and gun.

Keenan earns $83,053 annually, Dunn said.

Keenan was in uniform and at the most recent selectmen's meeting on Aug. 28.

Selectmen met in non-public session on Aug. 28 from 6 p.m. until 7 p.m. when they convened the regular portion of the meeting. After the regular meeting, selectmen re-entered a non-public session that draft minutes say ended at 8:40 p.m. Reasons for the non-public session were given as protecting the reputation of someone other than a board member and consideration of the purchase, sale or lease of real estate.

Minutes of both non-public sessions were sealed by a unanimous vote of the board.

Dunn said Keenan became a Gilford Police Officer on Nov. 24, 1994, and was named chief on Oct. 2, 2011. Prior to joining the Gilford Police, Keenan was a N.H. Marine Patrol Officer.

Dunn said yesterday that Lt. James Leach will be acting chief in Keenan's absence.

Dunn said he cannot comment on whether or not there are any investigations regarding Keenan or how long Keenan will be on paid administrative leave.

Attempts to reach Keenan were unsuccessful.

Selectmen Chairman Kevin Hayes was unavailable for comment and Selectman Gus Benavides didn't return the Sun's phone calls. Selectman John T. O'Brien declined to comment.

 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 11 September 2013 01:56

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No world record for paddlers, but lots of smiles

LACONIA — An attempt to set a new Guinness World Record for the largest "raft" of canoes and kayaks fell far short of the goal of 2,100 as only 300 showed up for Saturday's LakeFest at Weirs Beach.
But organizers of the event from the N.H. Lakes organization were pleased nonetheless and said that the organization plans to hold similar events in the future as part of its educational and outreach mission to protect the state's lakes.
Martha Lovejoy, member service representative for N.H. Lakes, said ''the response was amazing and there was great energy at this year's LakeFest. We've taken it from being an indoors convention type of gathering to one that was family-friendly and involved different generations of people vested in our lakes.''
''We learned a lot about what we need to do by holding the event. We're regrouping and assessing what we'll do next. We don't want to lose the energy we saw Saturday.''
She said 380 people registered in all and that a count taken on Saturday showed a little over 300 canoes and kayaks in the water.
One person who came from the farthest away was Tom Suppan of Manassas, Virginia, who was visiting his daughter, Amber, and his son-in-law Dave Cannon of Manchester.
Suppan brought along his hand-made cedar kayak, which he says it took him 350 hours to build and which he was headed to Maine with for a week of kayaking on the Androscoggin River.
''They heard about the attempt to break the record on NPR (National Public Radio) and we decided that it was a good event to get involved with,'' said Suppan, who works with the U.S. Treasury Department and is a relative of former Boston, Pittsburgh and St. Louis pitcher Jeff Suppan.
Both Cannon, who is a mechanical engineer who works for DEKA Research in Manchester, and his wife, who is a medical illustrator, also brought along kayaks and were eager to get out onto the lake and meet others who were taking part.
''It looks like a fun event and we've got a nice day for it,'' said Cannon.
Among those taking part were Denise Byrne of Loudon and her husband, Rich. She recently won a Guide 147 canoe from Old Town Canoes and Kayaks and Irwin Marine as part of a LakeFest promotion to encourage people to show up at Saturday's event.
Also there was Kathleen Zuchowski of Auburn, who kayaks frequently on Lake Masabbesic, where she says kayakers aren't permitted to even step into the lake, which serves as the water supply for the city of Manchester.
''I'm not really here because of the attempt to set a record. I think it is so important that we protect our lakes. This is a great fundraiser and that's what enticed me to be here.''
Another participant was Scott Kimball of Auburn, a retired art teacher who says that one of major problems he sees for that state of New Hampshire and Lake Winnipesaukee in particular is the lack of public access to the lake.
''My grandparents had a cottage in the late 1930s at Lee's Mills in Moultonborough. The lake has changed so much since then. We couldn't afford to keep it and it was bought and now there's a much bigger home there.'' says Kimball.
He recalls that when he was a kid there was a family campground on the lake nearby where there were 300 camp sites, used mostly by New Hampshire residents, which was also sold and now there are six large homes there and no more access for the public.
''We've privatized the lake. There's hardly any access for New Hampshire residents any more. We have only one small state park on Winnipesaukee. That's a shame. I'm so disappointed about where the lake went and appalled by the lack of access and the state's Tea Party way of doing things,'' said Kimball.
He said that he supports the mission of NH Lakes in trying to prevent the spread of invasive aquatic species but thinks that water milfoil is here to stay.
''My brother did research on milfoil in the 1970s for the Appalachian Mountain Club, when it was just establishing itself in the state. It's got worse since then and there's no way we're ever going to eradicate it. The best we can do is just react to try and control it wherever we can, knowing that it's going to reestablish itself,'' said Kimball.

CAPTION:

Tom Suppan of Manassas, Virginia, was among the 300 kayakers and canoeists who took part in the Hands Across the Water event at LakeFest Saturday morning at Weirs Beach. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

Last Updated on Tuesday, 10 September 2013 04:07

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Shawn Carter's lawyers want evidence discovery while indictment is still pending

LACONIA — The former Belmont man who allegedly murdered his mother and brother with an ax in late May will appear in court today so his attorneys can argue for the release (discovery) of information that they say could assist them with his defense.

Lawyers defending 31-year-old Shawn Carter say state law  allows them access to the state's information about the case before he is indicted by a grand jury, which has yet to happen.

N.H. Senior Assistant Attorney General Jeff Strelzin says the court's own rules do not entitle Carter's defense to the information until he has been indicted by a grand jury and the internal rules trump the state Legislature when it comes to setting internal time lines.

Carter, is charged with the ax murders of his mother Priscilla Carter and his brother Timothy Carter whose bodies were discovered on May 24 in their Sunset Drive home by Belmont Police while responding to a well-being check.

Carter was arrested by police about three hours after police found the bodies. He was driving his mother's car on Route 3 but, at the time was only charged with driving after his license had been suspended. He was held on $200 cash-only bail for the driving after revocation charge but was either unable or unwilling to post bond. He has since been found guilty.

On July 9, police charged Carter with four counts of second-degree homicide — two for each victim and each iterating a different theory of the same crime. To date he has not been indicted by a grand jury and is being held in a maximum security cell in the Belknap County House of Corrections without the possibility of bail.

The next round of indictments is due on October 3.

Carter's attorneys argue the state had obtained an arrest warrant for Carter for the murders on June 13 but didn't formally charge him until July 9 and the three-week time delay has violated his constitutional rights.

While his trial for driving after revocation was pending, Carter's attorneys repeatedly asked for the state's reasons for issuing a "be on the lookout" (BOLO) alert for him in the first place but were unable to get any information for the seven weeks until his actual arrests for the homicides.

Carter's defense team says state law allows for pre-indictment discovery and to date they have gotten nothing more than affidavits for his arrest from the state. They say the lack of information is interfering with Carter's constitutional rights to due process, to confront his accusers, and to hear the evidence against him.

During a probable cause hearing on August 6 for the homicides, Carter's defense team, as well as the public, heard from N.H. State Police homicide investigator Sgt. Joseph Ebert about the gruesome murders. The court ordered that the affidavits supporting Carter's arrest be released and his defense team was allowed to cross-examine Ebert.

Strelzin says court rules don't allow for pre-indictment discovery and the state law is inconsistent with more recent internal court rules regarding time lines.

He notes that the state Legislature passed the law allowing for pre-indictment discovery in 1971 but in May of 2004 then-N.H. Superior Court Justice Robert Lynn issued new rules for N.H. Courts saying that the Superior Court shall dismiss without prejudice and vacate all bail ordered in cases where a defendant has not been indicted 90 days after his or her arrest.

("Without prejudice" means the state, with a few exceptions, can re-charge a defendant with the same crime at a later date.)

"To the extent the purpose (of the state law) was to allow discovery in cases where the indictment was unduly delayed, the new administrative rule satisfies that purpose," wrote Strelzin in his argument against the pre-indictment discovery.

Strelzin also said that his department is well aware of its obligations to provide discovery, that the defense team has the affidavits supporting Carter's arrests, and the detailed testimony by Ebert at his probable cause hearing gives the defense team enough information to begin their own "independent investigation."

He also said the defense team has sole access to the only witness to Carter murders — Shawn Carter himself — and it's not the state's fault that Carter couldn't bail himself out, because he "killed his mother and brother and was unable to find anyone to assist him (with posting bail)."

"He, more than the state should be able to should be able to provide information about whatever 'potentially exculpatory evidence' the defense believes exists in this case," Strelzin continued.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 10 September 2013 03:42

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Danbury man charged with Gilmanton burglary, held on $10,000 cash bail

GILMANTON — A Danbury man police said allegedly burglarized a home on Major Road on September 5 is being held on $10,000 cash-only bail following his video appearance in the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division yesterday.

Police said Corey Cole, 22, of Drake Hill Road allegedly confessed to Danbury Police Chief David Kratz that he broke into the Gilmanton home and that he knows at least one of the people who live there. He is charged with one felony count of burglary.

Police Chief Joe Collins said he responded to Major Road Thursday, September 5 at 12:51 p.m. when an alarm sounded.

He said the alarm was off when he got there and no one was home. He said he walked around the house and noticed a small window that was open in the rear of the house. He said he checked the doors, which were all locked, but found the overhead garage door was unlocked. When Collins opened it, the alarm went off again.

At 1:38 p.m. the homeowner reported a Stihl chainsaw had been stolen during the burglary. Collins said it appears that Cole was bringing stuff from the house to the garage door but was scared off by the alarm.

Collins said they found the chainsaw at Fast Cash in Tilton and said it was sold to them by a female friend of Cole. On September 6, Cole turned himself into the Danbury Police.

In court yesterday, Prosecutor David Estes said Cole has an extensive criminal background and is currently out on bail from Merrimack County and is facing two counts of theft. In addition, Estes said Cole failed to appear at a hearing in the 5th Circuit Court, Newport Division.

Estes also said Cole has two bail-jumping convictions — one in Franklin and one in Laconia — as well as multiple convictions on theft-related charges in Plymouth, Franklin and Laconia courts.

His attorney argued for personal recognizance bail said Cole's failure to appear in Newport was "an honest mistake" regarding scheduling. She also said he agrees he needs help with addiction and is willing to go to a residential treatment facility.

She said his mother has agreed to give him a place to live and that he is working part-time.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 10 September 2013 03:26

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