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Fire, explosion destroys home, two people and dog escape (477)


LACONIA — Fire swept through a home at 76 Winnisquam Ave. on Saturday morning, forcing one resident to jump through a window and threatening the houses to either side and leaving two adults and their dog homeless.
As firefighters from Laconia, Gilford and Belmont were dispatched to the scene, Capt. Chris Shipp requested a first alarm to recall off-duty firefighters along with neighboring departments to staff the city's fire stations. Reaching the scene in three minutes with four firefighters, Shipp found one house fully afire and two others threatened and requested a second alarm. Engine 1 ran a 4-inch hose from a hydrant on Winnisquam Avenue while a second two-and-a-half-inch hose was directed at the rear of the building. Firefighters forestalled the spread of fire to the abutting homes then turned to the burning building. As more crews arrived, firefighters ran additional hose lines into the building as well as the home to its left. Ladders were raised to reach the upper story and the tower was raised to the roof to attack fire in the attic.
Fire Chief Ken Erickson said that fire "gutted" the interior of the home at 76 Winnisquam Ave., which he expected "will have to come down." Damage to the home on one side was limited to an exterior wall and the attic while there was heat damage to the vinyl siding of the other flanking property.
The property is owned by Gail Denio, whose son Mark was home alone when the fire broker out. He escaped from the burning building by jumping through a window and was treated at the scene for cuts to his hands. A firefighter was also injured and treated at Lakes Region General Hospital.
Erickson said that the cause of the fire has not been determined, and added that in light of extent of the damage, it may not be. He said that Mark Denio told firefighters that he stepped outside to smoke a cigarette and the porch at the rear of the house "exploded" and the house burst into flame.

"We had several reports of an explosion," said the chief, who noted that a propane tank was found at the scene.
The Denios lost everything they owned save the clothes on their backs. Gail Denio has worked for the city for more than 20 years. Donna Woodaman, the finance director, said that an account at GoFundMe has been established to assist the Denios and anyone wishing to contribute can do so by following this link: Those who would prefer to donate by check or cash should make out checks and mark cash donations for Gail Denio and bring them to the Finance Department on the second floor of City Hall.

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Man who allegedly sold fentanyl in Tilton case withdraws plea


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.

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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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Man nabbed at Post Office for alleged meth mail, now held on $25,000 cash bail


LACONIA — A Union Avenue man arrested Friday afternoon as he allegedly picked up a package containing 56 grams of methamphetamine from the city Post Office waived his arraignment in Belknap County Superior Court Monday and entered a plea of not guilty.

Robert Golden Jr. 37, of 148 Union Ave. #6 is charged with one count of possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute it. He is being held on $25,000 cash-only bail.

Affidavits obtained from the Belknap County Superior Court on Monday said city police were informed that Golden was being shipped a package of methamphetamine that had originated from Redwood City, California, and had been intercepted by U.S. Postal Inspectors after they applied for a search warrant on Nov. 4. A N.H. State Police K-9 allegedly "hit" on the package during shipping, triggering the search warrant.

The package was opened, inspected, and sent on to Golden, who had allegedly been calling the Laconia Post Office looking for it. Postal inspectors, said affidavits, made arrangements for Golden to come and get it.

Local police put surveillance teams on Golden at both his home and at the Post Office, and were able to watch as Golden allegedly drove a dark red Pontiac Grand Prix to Beacon Street West, park in a handicapped spot in the parking lot of the post office and entered the Post Office.

Police inside the facility said they witnessed him ask for and sign for the package. Golden was taken into custody without incident as he walked down the Post Office steps.

Police said he was read his Miranda rights and allegedly admitted he had been selling methamphetamine because he didn't have a job.

During a search of Golden's home, police found five grams of heroin, a small quantity of methamphetamine, a .22 caliber handgun, a shotgun, several hundred rounds of ammunition, several large knives and drug paraphernalia.

Police also found a significant amount of Narcan, which is an anti-opiate medication used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.

Capt. Matthew Canfield call the bust a "significant arrest" and said city police continue to work with state and federal authorities to stem the influx of illegal drugs to Laconia.