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All charges dropped against man suspected in 2014 burglary


LACONIA — The state has dropped all charges against a local man who had been accused of being an accomplice to a burglary on Harvard Street in June of 2014 where one of the victims was either grazed by a bullet or hit with a gun.

In June of 2016, a Belknap County grand jury had indicted Joshua G. Pike, 30, of or formerly of 1156 N. Main St. in Laconia, for one count of being an career criminal who was in possession of a gun, one count of being an conspirator to burglary and one count of being an accomplice to a burglary in the night.

The state had contended that Pike was the "inside man" when he opened the door in the early morning hours of June 25 and allowed two masked men to enter the home at 54 Harvard St. Some illegal drugs were stolen, a gun was fired, and one victim was injured either by the bullet or by a blow to the head.

Earlier this year, the state also dropped charges against Tyler Twombly, formerly of Concord, who was charged with being one of the two masked men who committed the crime. After attempting a series of hearings where witnesses could either get immunity or not testify for fear of self-incrimination, none of the witnesses appeared. Twombly's attorney had said that Pike would have testified that it was not Twombly who entered the home; however, the state refused to give him immunity.

In Pike's case, his attorney successfully argued in a request to separate the career criminal charge from the other charges because there was no evidence that his client had control of a gun that night or at any other time, and that the charge of being a career criminal was just a way for the prosecution to let the jury know that Pike has previous convictions for burglary and accomplice to robbery.

The state argued that all three cases should be tried together because all of the witnesses were the same and the three crimes allegedly happened on the same night.

Belknap County Superior Court Judge James O'Neill said that if the jury heard the evidence "there is a significant risk that the jury would impermissibly use this information as evidence that the defendant is guilty in this case of (the other criminal charges.)" He granted to motion to sever the one case from the two burglary cases.

The state opted to drop all three cases against Pike.

Court Street fire displaces six

LACONIA -- Six people were forced from their homes Friday night due to a fire at 140 Court Street. At 10:47 p.m., Laconia Fire along with an engine from Belmont and Gilford Fire Departments responded to a call about a fire in the bathroom. Companies from Laconia Central Station under command of Lt Desrosiers found a fire in the bathroom ceiling around a light fixture spreading into the attic. The building is a two-and-a-half story addition attached to a two-story main house housing multiple occupants. The fire was quickly knocked down and crews worked until just after midnight to confirm the fire was out and assisting occupants. The owners made arrangements for temporary housing for the night. That section of the building is not inhabitable due to the damage.

The fire appears to be electrical in nature but is still under investigation. Damage estimated at $15,000

Laconia Fire was assisted at the scene by Laconia Police, Gilford Fire Department, and Belmont Fire Department. The city stations were covered by Tilton-Northfield and Meredith Fire Departments as well as Meredith EMS.

The Red Cross is assisting the displaced residents.

Politicians answer I-L students’ questions about careers in politics


MEREDITH — Five local political figures convened at a political panel Inter-lakes High School on Thursday to discuss their positions in public office and give students insight into their political careers. The freshmen social studies students were given the opportunity to ask the speakers questions to guide the discussion.
Laconia Mayor Ed Engler, state Sen. Jeanie Forrester, Executive Councilor Joe Kenney and state Reps. Valerie Fraser and Herb Vadney started the talk with brief introductions of themselves and how they got into politics, all citing wanting to change their communities for the better.
Students asked a variety of questions directed at specific politicians. One subject that every panelist discussed was the growing drug crisis in New Hampshire and the Lakes Region.
"In Laconia and the Lakes Region, obviously we're all doing whatever we can to help people who have addiction issues," Engler explained before discussing the local efforts to fight the rampant drug problem. "Laconia was the first city in the state to dedicate a police officer to do nothing but work with people who have addiction issues," he said. "The issue is not to put them in jail or arrest them or whatever, but to work with them, try to get them into treatment centers as opposed to arresting them."
Kenney spoke more about the drug problem at the state level. "The drug problem is the number one issue in the state of New Hampshire," he said. "The Executive Council has approved over $24 million in contracts for prevention and treatment programs for the state. We're all in this drug fight together," Kenney stated, summing up the sentiments of all of the panelists.
Fraser, who had a background in nursing and is also a veterinarian, warned students of the dangers of all drugs, not just illicit ones. "All drugs are toxic. It's not a drug unless it has a toxicity level," she explained. "That's part of prevention, understanding that everything's toxic. Keep that in mind when you're looking at anything, whether it's over-the-counter, illicit drugs, heroin, fentanyl, all of that; there is a lethal dose so be careful what you take."
Another topic of interest included legalization of marijuana, for both medicinal and recreational uses. One student directed the question to Vadney, who cited his past voting record in favor of medical marijuana and decriminalizing small amounts of the drug. "I know what we're doing is not working," Vadney stated, claiming that jails are being crowded and people are being left "with a lifetime record of stupidity."
"I think you can't put this thing back in the bag. It's everywhere. I think we have to educate people on what to do, but to think that you can ban it and win is a losing battle," Vadney concluded.
Kenney also fielded a question about his thoughts on seatbelts. "My short answer would be 'Live free or die,'" he said. "We do a very good job with the youth of our state making sure they're protected and that the law is protected as well." He finished stating that adults have reached the age that they should know what is right and should not be mandated to buckle up if they do not want to.
Of course, in this election cycle it is all but impossible not to ask politicians how they feel about the current presidential campaign. Forrester was asked about her feelings on Republican candidate Donald Trump.

"He's certainly not, for me, a role model; I disagree with a lot of the things that he stands for," Forrester said. "He says a lot of things that i think he doesn't have a filter for and that's disappointing because the person you want to be your president you want to be proud of. I think in this election year we don't have a lot of good choices and it's going to be a tough election cycle."
The political panel provided an excellent opportunity for ILHS freshmen to get to know their local representatives' better and develop a better understanding of their jobs.

10-14 ILHS politicians panel

Laconia Mayor Ed Engler addresses students at Inter-Lakes High School Thursday about a career in politics. With him, from left, are state sen Jeanie Forrester, Executive Councilor Joe Kenney, state Rep. Valerie Fraser and state Rep. Herb Vadney. (Brooke Robinson/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

10-14 ILHS politicians panel kids

Students at Inter-Lakes High School asked questions of the panel about the drug problem in the Lakes Region, marijuana use, seat belts and Donald Trump. (Brooke Robinson/for The Laconia Daily Sun)