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Clarification: Bobbie Miller & her dog were not necessarily shot with same gun

CLARIFICATION - In an article that appeared on Page 1 of Tuesday's Daily Sun, N.H.Asst. Attorney General Ben Agati is quoted as saying that both Roberta Miller and her dog Scout were killed by shotgun blasts. He has since clarified that he is not 100-percent certain the same shotgun killed both.

Last Updated on Thursday, 18 September 2014 01:08

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Laconia Country Club course earns high praise from best senior golfers from throughout New England

LACONIA — Laconia County Club won praise from golfers from all over New England who took part in the 17th annual New England Senior Amateur Championship which concluded yesterday after two days of play.
''It's a hidden gem, an absolutely fantastic golf course. The condition of the course was absolutely superb,'' said Dick King of Hyannisport. Mass., winner of the Super Senior award for lowest score (152) for a golfer over 65.
His praise was echoed by Harry B. McCracken Jr., the executive secretary and treasurer of the New England Golf Association, who was the head official for the tournament., and Dick Osborn of the Bay State, president of the association.
''The greens are fantastic and they all play so consistent,'' said Osborn, who presented LCC President Randy Annis with a citation honoring the club for hosting the tournament while singling out LCC's green superintendent Tom DiFonzo and LCC pro Todd Rollins for special praise.
Annis said that LCC was proud to host the championship, which featured over 100 of New England's top age 55 and over amateur golfers.
The tournament was won by Jim Romanello of Shorehaven Golf Cub in Connecticut, who posted a 145 score to edge Bruce Carter of The International in Massachusetts by one stroke. Finishing third with a 147 was Brian Secia of Miaconnet Golf Course in Connecticut.
Top New Hampshire finishers were Phil Pleat of Nashua CC with a 148 and Craig Steckowych of Portsmouth CC and Robert Linn of Franconia CC, both with a 149.
Bill Everett, former Laconia Country Club golfer who now plays at Owl's Head CC and lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, was in contention after the first day with a 73, which trailed first day leader Paul Mitchell of George Wright GC in Massachusetts by three strokes, but shot a 77 Wednesday, finishing at 150.
''The course was great. I just wish I'd played a little better,'' said Everett.
One of the officials, Tom Lane of Connecticut, said that he attended Boston College with Jack Irwin, whose family at that time owned the Winnipesaukee Gardens and Irwin Marine, and didn't realize for years that Irwin's was such an important part of the Lake Winnipesaukee and New England boating world.

CAPTION:

lcc honor

Richard Osborn (left), president of the New England Golf Association, presents a citation honoring Laconia Country Club for hosting the 17th annual New England Senior Amateur Championship to Randy Annis, president of Laconia Country Club. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

lcc winner

Richard Osborn, president of the New England Golf Association, presents a trophy to Jim Romanello of Shorehaven Golf Club in Connecticut, winner of the 17th annual New England Senior Amateur Championship which was held at Laconia Country Club the last two days. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)

Last Updated on Thursday, 18 September 2014 01:05

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Hate crime conviction upheld by Supreme Court

CONCORD — The N.H. Supreme Court has upheld the conviction of a Belmont man who threatened two Wal-Mart employees in Tilton in 2010 because he thought they were Jewish.

Paul Costella was convicted after a jury trial in 2013 in the Belknap County Superior Court of two counts of criminal threatening and one count of disorderly conduct. He was sentenced to 12 months in jail — an extended term of punishment because of the N.H. hate crime statute.

The case began on November 29, 2010 when Costella went into the Walmart in Tilton for an oil change. While driving his car into the service bay, one of the victims noticed a photograph of Costella and his daughter standing in front of a red flag with a swastika. In the photo Costella and his daughter were performing a "Heil Hitler" salute.

The woman told Costella she could refuse service to someone with whom she was uncomfortable and Costella asked her if she was Jewish. She replied "what's it to you" or something like that and Costella told her that not enough Jews were killed during WWII. He also asked if she saw his "Jew killing gun" in the car.

The oil change was completed and a second employee returned Costella's car to him while the female victim processed his paper work. When she told him her uncle had been burned alive by the Nazis, he told her that he hoped "that Jew bastard" suffered when he died.

As he left, he said to no one in particular that he was going to his car to get the gun to kill the Jew bitch behind the counter.

When the store manager overheard the conversation he came over and Costella asked him if he was Jewish. The manager didn't respond and Costella said he was going to kill "both you Jews." He restated he had a "Jew killing gun."

The manger called police and Costella was charged with two counts of criminal threatening and disorderly conduct. The N.H. Belknap County Attorney decided to seek enhanced penalties under the hate crime statute and gave Costella notice.

Costella argued that Judge James O'Neill erred when he didn't dismiss the case as a hate crime because the state couldn't prove that either of the two victims were Jewish.

He argued that the hate crime statute (RSA 651:6, I(f)) was only applicable if the state could prove beyond a reasonable doubt that his actions were motivated by their actual religion.

The court relied on a U.S. Supreme Court ruling regarding a Wisconsin hate crime statute as one the singles out bias-inspired conduct because this conduct is thought to inflict greater individual and social crime. The U.S. ruling said bias-motivated crimes are more likely to provoke retaliatory crimes and incite community unrest.

"The specific community here resulting from a hate crime flows from the defendant's bias-motivated actions, rather than the victim's actual status as a member of a protected class," wrote N.H. Supreme Court Associate Justice James Bassett in his opinion.

"Society is harmed by a bias-motivated crime regardless of whether the victim is, in fact, a member of the protected class the defendant has targeted," he continued.

The court also ruled it would be "absurd" for the state to conclusively prove any victim was a member of a specific protected class, asking rhetorically what evidence a jury would use to prove that a person was Jewish or Native American or of mixed race for example.

The court determined that the state had to prove only that Costella was sufficiently motivated to commit the crime because of his hostility toward what he perceived to be the victim's religion.

The four other N.H. Supreme Court justices concurred with the ruling.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 September 2014 12:53

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Make-believe coyotes doing their job in Meredith parks

MEREDITH — After standing sentinel in Hesky Park and Scenic Park for the past several weeks, mock coyotes have confirmed the adage of the Elizabethean poet John Lyly that "It is the blind goose that cometh to the fox's sermon."

With the parks littered with goose droppings, last month Town Manager Phil Warren proposed and the Board of Selectmen authorized purchasing faux coyotes to frighten the Canada geese away. Altogether the town bought a half-dozen coyotes at $70 apiece. Two have been stolen, but Warren said that four that remain have done their job.

"They work as long as we move them," Warren remarked, explaining that town employees passing by or working in the parks shuffle the coyotes around at least twice a day. Stationed along the shoreline, casting watchful eyes on the water or poised to pounce with teeth bared, the coyotes have confined the geese to the lake. But, said Warren, if the coyotes are left on the same place too long, the geese waddle ashore and circle behind them.

Warren chose the coyotes over several more expensive alternatives, including dogs trained to harass the geese until they leave never to return and devices that produce a sound geese find unnerving costing $1,600 apiece. "There was no appetite for fences and hedges," he said. He recalled that the coyotes were effective in Abington, Massachusetts where he worked before coming to Meredith.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 September 2014 12:46

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