Lawyers argue illegal search led to meth discovery

LACONIA – A local man charged with felony possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute has asked the court to dismiss the charge against him by claiming the search of his car by city police was illegal. The case is being heard in the Belknap County Superior Court.

Police stopped Peter Dauphin, 43, of 19 Appleton St. around 10 p.m. April 25 on Sheridan Street just before the intersection of Appleton Street because he had allegedly squealed his tires in Lakeport Square and police felt he was speeding. When asked for his license and registration, Dauphin produced a bill of sale for the car and told officers he was using the previous owner's plates until he could get it registered.

The officer said he would have to take the plates because they were not Dauphin's and the car would need to be towed. Since Dauphin's home was visible from where the stop took place he said he asked and was given permission by the officer to have the car towed to his home. Dauphin made his own arrangements with the driver from Gulbicki's Towing and paid him $125 to take the car to his driveway.

While the car was being loaded on to the flatbed, the officer told Dauphin it was police department policy to search it. Since the car was locked, the officer reached his hand into an open passenger side window and triggered the alarm. Dauphin turned off the alarm. During the search, the officer found a sunglasses case under the seat and in it was about an ounce of methamphetamine. Dauphin was arrested and taken to the police station where he was interrogated. He told police there was more methamphetamine at his home and where it was. Police got a search warrant and found several ounces of meth in his home, along with $11,000.

Dauphin's attorney Mark Sisti argues in his motion to suppress the evidence filed in court that the car was registered to the prior owner and there is nothing in state law that says a car can't be driven by someone other than the person who holds the registration.

Sisti said that according to state law, a car can be ordered towed by police only under certain circumstances and that none of those were applicable that night. He said the car was not unattended nor was it going to be, it was not obstructing a road because it was already on the flatbed when the officer initiated the search, there was no complaint of obstruction, it was not stolen and it was registered, and Dauphin was not incapacitated.

The Laconia Police towing policy, said Sisti, is also inapplicable because a car is searched only when it taken into custody or towed under orders of a member of the department. In this case, he said, the car was being towed to Dauphin's home and the tow contract was negotiated with him and not police. The police left the details of the towing to Dauphin and the tow truck driver.

He also said they was no need to protect Dauphin from damage or loss to the contents from police because the car was being towed to his house. In addition, he said there was no reason for the police to protect themselves against any false claims by Dauphin regarding his personal property because the car was not going to be in their custody. At the time the car was loaded onto the tow truck, Dauphin was not under arrest.

Sisti argues that because the search of the car was illegal, the statements he made to detectives at the police station, which are the continuation of the same event and that led to the search of his home, are "fruits of the poisonous tree" and should also be dismissed.

Former county sheriff's deputy posts bail, tries to get rape charge dismissed

MANCHESTER – A former Belknap County sheriff's deputy charged with raping a woman he was transporting to the New Hampshire State Prison for Women posted $5,000 cash bail Thursday after he was ordered to do so by Manchester North Superior Court Judge Kenneth Brown.

He is also ordered to stay away from the victim and to stay away from his wife while abiding by the terms specified by the 6th Circuit Court, Franklin Family Division. He is also ordered to continue counseling.

Brown also denied a request for a bill of particulars and a motion to dismiss the single charge of aggravated felonious sexual assault against Ernest Justin Blanchette, 36, of 39 Nathanial Drive of Fremont.

The state alleges that while transporting a female prisoner from Belknap County to the prison in Goffstown and while she was in Blanchette's custody, he coerced her to have sex with him in an abandoned house somewhere in Hillsborough County.

Attorney Brad Davis argued that since the indictment doesn't state any additional information regarding the specific acts Blanchette allegedly used to coerce the woman, he can't mount an effective defense against the charges.

In reply, Hillsborough Assistant County Attorney Michael Zaino argued that the charge is not so ambiguous as to prevent Davis from mounting a defense.

Davis also filed a motion notifying the prosecution that he will be using a consent defense, meaning the state must prove all of the elements of the offense including coercion.


Note: This story has been updated to say it was a deputy who was charged and posted bail.

Brenda Kean looks forward to role at Tayor Community

LACONIA — Although Brenda Kean has left her position as executive director of the Laconia Historical and Museum Society to become director of resident life at the Taylor Community, she said yesterday that “I have had a hard time stepping away from the history thing.”
Kean will remain a member of the board of directors of the society and perhaps more significantly has joined the Planning Committee convened by the Belknap Economic Council to oversee the renovation ad restoration of the Colonial Theatre. She explained that the committee has engaged a professional historical conservation consultant, but that she is particularly interested in the restoration of drape at the theater.
As executive director of the Laconia historical and Museum Society, Kean managed the restoration of the grand drapes from both the Moulton Opera House and Lakeport Opera House. She secured a grant from the New Hampshire State Council for the Arts and worked with Christine Hadsel of Curtains Without Borders of Burlington, Vermont, who has restored more than 250 painted drapes. Kean expects the restoration of the drape at the Colonial Theatre to be an especially rewarding project.
Meanwhile, Kean said that she is looking forward to “a new adventure” with the Taylor Community. She recalled that she began work in mortgage banking and transitioned to retail banking before leaving the industry as vice president of banking services at Franklin Savings Bank.
On the brink of a new career, she said “I seem to have been in the right place at the time,” adding that with each change she “looks at people with a different set of eyes.”
“When my children talked to me about what they wanted to be when they grew up,” Kean said, “I told them I didn’t know what I would be when I grew up.”