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Lafond defense asks to continue trial for 90 days

LACONIA — The attorney representing Amy Lafond, the Laconia woman charged with manslaughter and negligent homicide for allegedly driving into two teenage girls — killing one and injuring the other — is asking the Belknap County Superior Court to delay her trial for 90 days.

Lafond's case, stemming from the incident last April 19, is currently scheduled to begin with a pre-trail conference on Jan. 14 and the selection of a jury on Feb. 3.

Mark Sisti, who was retained to defend Lafond in November, told the court yesterday that he is already scheduled to try cases in Merrimack County Superior Court beginning on Jan. 6 and in Rockingham County Superior Court beginning on Feb. 3.

Belknap County Attorney Melissa C. Guldbrandsen has assented to the request to continue the proceedings. Justice James D. O'Neill III has yet to rule. In October, the Superior Court narrowed the grounds for granting continuances in criminal cases in order to avoid unnecessary delays that unduly waste the time and resources of the court and litigants. However, these guidelines do not address scheduling conflicts like those Sisti has cited.

Lilyanna Johnson and Allyssa Miner were struck while on the sidewalk at the crosswalk at the south end of the Messer Street Bridge at approximately 2:30 p.m. on April 19. Lafond was traveling northbound on Messer Street toward the intersection with Opechee Street. A car going in the same direction had stopped at the crosswalk, apparently to allow some middle school students standing at the corner to cross the street. Lafond is alleged to have skirted the stopped car, crossed into the southbound lane of Messer Street and mounted the raised sidewalk, hitting the two girls.
In charging manslaughter, a Class A felony, the state alleges that LaFond recklessly caused the death of Johnson by driving while distracted at an excessive speed after consuming drugs. Manslaughter carries a maximum sentence of 15 to 30 years in prison. Alternatively, she was indicted on two alternative theories of negligent homicide, both Class B felonies, one for "failing to maintain a proper lookout" and the other for "failing to pay due attention while operating a motor vehicle after having consumed drugs." As Class B felonies the negligent homicide charges carry maximum sentences of 3 1/2 to seven years in prison. Lafond is also charged with second-degree assault, also a Class B felony, with a sentence of 3 1/2 to seven years, for injuring Miner.
Lafond pled not guilty to the charges when she was arraigned on Sept. 25 and was subsequently indicted by a Belknap County Grand Jury on Oct. 3. Since her arraignment she has been held in lieu of bail of $50,000 cash or $100,000 corporate surety.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 24 December 2013 01:25

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Small joys: woman reunited with her Christmas Village

LACONIA — Jane Miner is now reunited with the Christmas Village houses that she started collecting about 10 years ago while living in Florida.
More than 100 of them are now proudly displayed along shelves along the walls of the hallway in the upstairs apartment she shares with her son, Bruce, and daughter-in-law, Julie.
"'I'm so glad to have them back.'' says Miner, who passed them along to a relative around the time she moved back to New Hampshire seven years ago to live with her son.
The Christmas Village houses and small figurines also made their way back to another home in New Hampshire, remaining in a Concord home until early June when the family which had them downsized their home and found they lacked the room to continue storing and displaying them.
''I asked Bruce if we could bring them back here and he was more than glad to do that. Ever since then he and Julie have been working to make a display area for them,'' says Jane.
Bruce Miner says he has spent the last eight weeks making shelves to display the homes, which feature a variety of winter scenes and figurines, from bakeries, drug stores and doctor's offices and even a Walmart, to figurines singing Christmas carols and engaging in a snowball fight.
It's taken him a lot of hours and planning to accomplish the task, which Bruce says is still not complete as he is adding a water scene to complete the display.
''I've worked a couple of hours every night after work on this as well as every weekend. We wanted to have them all up before Christmas,'' he says.
Bruce, who is currently the paint shop manager at the State Hospital in Concord, says that he is making good use of the carpentry and building skills that he has built up over a lifetime of working in construction.

''I didn't want any electrical wires showing, so I built subfloors to house them.'' she says. He also uses magnets to keep the figures from tipping over.
Julie, a health care unit coordinator at Lakes Region General Hospital in Laconia, says that she thinks the display adds a really festive atmosphere to the home and likes it so much she might want to see it stay up on a permanent basis.
''It really catches your attention. It's been a lot of work, but it's all been worth it,'' she says.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 24 December 2013 01:26

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Second man arrested in connection with Oct. home invasion

LACONIA — A man who was allegedly involved in a Oct. 29 home invasion and burglary was arrested by city police last night and is being held on $15,000 cash or corporate surety.

Scott Perrault, 27, of 310 Mechanic St. turned himself into Laconia Police after being told there was a warrant for his arrest. He is charged with once count of armed robbery.

Kenneth Dukette, 22, of Dewey St., who is Perrault's half-brother, was charged with his role in the the alleged crime and was indicted last week by a Belknap County grand jury for four counts of kidnapping — each for both victims — theft by unauthorized taking, armed robbery, burglary, and criminal threatening.

According to affidavits obtained from the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division, city police initially responded to a North Main Street apartment building and found a handcuffed man as well as woman victim whose wrists had been bound with a telephone charger cord.

The male victim said told police Dukette, who he knows, and Perrault, who he said he didn't know, broke into his apartment and ordered him to open a safe from which the two stole a gun and some money.

Police soon stopped Dukette's car and found two Airsoft handguns, two pair of gloves. They said one of the Airsoft guns appeared to have what was dried blood on it, which is consistent with the victim telling police Dukette hit him with his fists and with one of the guns.

Police said they learned Perrault's identity when they interviewed Dukette after his arrest and he told them his half-brother had gone into the house with him that day.

According to affidavits, Perrault went to the Laconia Police station on Nov. 15 and spoke with a detective and admitted his role.

Perrault told the detective that he and Dukette went to the victim's house to buy some drugs but when they went into the apartment, Dukette told the victim to "give us your (explicative)."

Perrault stated to police that the victim "gets robbed all the time," that he is "a little guy," and "that's what happens in the drug game."
In court yesterday, City Prosecutor Jim Sawyer argued that Perrault's role in the alleged home invasion was a serious one and asked that he be held on $15,000 cash bail.

Public Defender Steve Mirkin argued that Perrault had cooperated with police, had turned himself in when notified of the warrant for his arrest, and had not fled the area after his November 15 interview with police.

Judge Jim Carroll set bail for Perrault at $15,000 cash or corporate surety.

Dukette is being held on $100,000 cash-only bail. Following a recent bail review hearing in the Belknap County Superior Court, Judge James O'Neill continued the $100,000 cash-only bail.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 24 December 2013 01:36

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Winnisquam board ready to bring football into the fold

TILTON — The Winnisquam Regional School Board voted unanimously last month to put a $28,000 warrant article for funding a high school football program on the warrant of the 2014 school district meeting.
The board adopted the recommendation of its Athletic Committee, which had conducted a study on the long-term sustainability of a football program and had urged that the district ''own and operate the football program''.
The Winnisquam football program has been run by the Friends of Winnisquam Football, a community-funded organization, since its inception in 2005. Home games are played on a field next to Tanger Factory Outlets which is accessed from Rte. 132.
Board member Patricia Sawicki, who chairs the committee, said that there are concerns about the field but they should be addressed in a separate study.
Sean Goodwin said that the major point the committee wanted to make to the board was that ''they are still relying on capable volunteers to fund and operate the most well attended school sponsored athletic event and it is the single sport that attracts school participants of all abilities.''
Interim High School Principal Robert Pedersen said his experience with club programs in other districts has been that schools gain more control and have stronger teams when they are district funded.
Athletic director Zack Medlock said that the football program would be entirely managed by the district and that Friends of Winnisquam Football strongly favor the proposal.
The proposal calls for gate receipts going to the district and concessions revenue going to the Boosters Club, which would continue to operate the concessions.
The issue has been on the ballot several times as a result of petitioned warrant articles, according to School Board Chairman Mike Gagne, who said the study thoroughly addressed concerns which have been raised in the past and earned unanimous support from school board members.

Last Updated on Saturday, 21 December 2013 12:39

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