Alleged drug dealer’s statements to police in overdose case can be heard by jury

By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — The potentially self-incriminating statements made by a Northfield man to Tilton Police when he was charged with sales of drugs with a death resulting can be presented to the jury.

Belknap County Superior Court Presiding Justice James O'Neil ruled Thursday that Tilton Police detectives properly read Brian Watson, 51, his rights at the time of his arrest. He also determined that lead Detective Nathan Buffington reminded him of his rights before he questioned him.

"Upon review, the court concludes that the state demonstrated beyond a reasonable doubt here that the defendant was read his Miranda rights," wrote O'Neill in his 10-page ruling.

Watson, through his attorney Mark Sisti, had sought to suppress, or not allow into evidence, the statement during his interview, saying he didn't waive his rights but was only informed of them.

A second prong of Sisti's motion was that Watson was only told the police had a warrant for drug sales and not drug sales with a death resulting. Sisti unsuccessfully argued that he should have been told he was being arrested for a death and not drugs sales only.

During his interview, which was played in its entirety at a hearing last week, Watson told Buffington that he was an unemployed engineer who had only recently begun selling drugs so he didn't lose his home.

He also told Buffington that he warned Seth Tilton-Fogg to not use too much of the drug because it was very powerful. He added that he knew it was fentanyl because of the way it tasted.

Police say Watson sold 21-year-old Tilton-Fogg the drugs that killed him in late April of 2015. Earlier police affidavits obtained from the 6th Circuit Court- Franklin Division said that the two knew each other through Teanna Bryson, who was Watson's girlfriend and knew Tilton-Fogg from high school.

Bryson is scheduled to testify at the trial but, as of last week, she could not be located.

Watson had been free on personal recognizance bail but violated one of his bail conditions by having Bryson in his car during a traffic stop. He is being held on $25,000 cash-only bail in the Belknap County House of Corrections.

Watson's trial is scheduled to begin with opening arguments on Aug. 3. Jury selection will begin on Aug. 1.

Two seats are open for filing for Laconia School Board (65)

LACONIA — Two seats on the Laconia School Board — Ward 2 and Ward 3 — will be on the ballot for the general election on Tuesday, Nov. 8. The filing period for the two seats opens on Tuesday, Aug. 2, and closes on Friday, Aug. 12, at the City Clerk's Office, which is open on weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Currently Ward 2 is represented by Barbara Luther and Ward 3 by Scott Vachon.

– Michael Kitch

Colonial Theatre will open for tours in August

LACONIA — The Belknap Economic Development Council has invited the general public to visit the Colonial Theatre, where the demolition work begun in the spring has been completed, offering unobstructed views of the foyer, lobby, auditorium and stage.

Justin Slattery, executive director of the council, said Friday that the theater will be open to the public during the lunch hour from noon to 1 p.m. on the first four Wednesdays coming up: Aug. 3, 10, 17 and 24.

Slattery said that the project is still in the design and engineering phase, working on fitting the theater with modern lighting, plumbing, heating, and cooling systems that comply with contemporary building codes as a major priority. In the meantime, the partitions that divided the auditorium into five motion-picture theaters, along with most of the seating, have been removed, exposing the expanse and decor of the auditorium.

"This is an opportunity for the public to view the theater, which will not be accessible once the renovation process begins," he said.

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