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Woman who pleaded guilty to selling heroin that resulted in fatal overdose asks for new trial

LACONIA — A woman who is serving a 15- to 30-year sentence for her role in supplying a 22-year-old woman with the heroin that killed her is petitioning the court for a new trial. A hearing on the matter is scheduled for tomorrow in Belknap County Superior Court.

Karen Mekkelsen, 29, formerly of North Main Street, pleaded guilty in March 2012 in Belknap County Superior Court to conspiracy to distribute heroin with a death resulting. She also pleaded guilty to a different charge of possession of heroin with intent to distribute.

Mekkelsen, who is represented by Atty. Matt Lahey, said evidence discovered during the investigation and trial of one of her alleged con-conspirators revealed that a man who was not identified in the initial investigation posted on Facebook that he was the one who gave Ashley Denty the fatal dose.

"I killed her, I shot her up and it's my fault and innocent people went to prison because of me, she was my best friend," wrote the Plymouth man on his Facebook page.

Ashely Denty, 22, formerly of Union Avenue was found dead by her neighbors on April 1, 2011, after they heard her 2-year-old son crying and convinced him to open the door and let them in. The N.H. State Medical Examiner said her death was caused by a heroin overdose.

Mekkelsen claims the Belknap County Attorney's Office had the information from Laconia Police in transcripts taken on April 24, 2013, and had forwarded them to the prosecution on July 9. At the time, the county was prosecuting Alfredo Gonzales, 48, for his alleged role in supplying the heroin to Mekkelsen. He was charged with one count of distributing heroin with death resulting.

In the wake of this new information, charges against Gonzalez were dropped in August.

Mekkelsen asked the court in September to grant her motion for a new trial, appoint a new lawyer for her, and schedule an emergency hearing. In October, Judge James O'Neill granted her request for a new court-appointed lawyer, Lahey.

Asst. County Prosecutor Carley Ahern has objected to Mekkelsen's request for a new trial by saying Mekkelson also pleaded guilty to a charge of possession of a controlled drug with the intent to distribute it, which is a separate and distinct event from the sale of the heroin that killed Denty.

As to the possession charge, affidavits at the time of her arrest said Laconia Police found 26 bags of heroin on her and that she told them Gonzalez was allegedly providing her with 600 bags weekly to sell, or $2,000 daily.

Ahern, in her motion objecting to a new trial, said Mekkelson has failed to show why the recently unearthed and, in her opinion, exculpatory evidence would lead to a verdict in her favor.

Ahern also said that in order to grant a new trial the laws says the evidence must not have been discovered by the moving party, that the evidence is admissible, and that it is of such a character that a different result would be reached — standards she said haven't been met.

"However, the third party's statements are unreliable, contrary to statements by all other witnesses and are inconsistent with the physical evidence including the medical examiner's report and the reported time of death," Ahern wrote.

The motion hearing for a new trial is scheduled for tomorrow at 9 a.m.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 06 November 2013 03:28

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Merchant spots break-in; Tilton police make arrest

TILTON — Police have charged a Manchester woman with burglary after she was allegedly spotted by a pawnshop employee breaking into the house across the street.

Police said the employee noticed the woman around 9:30 a.m. trying all of the windows to see if one was open.

The Fast Cash employee said he knew the woman trying to get into the house was not the woman who lived there and called the police, giving them the a description of the car — with the plate number — and the direction it was headed.

A Tilton police officer responding to the call spotted the silver Nissan near Valvoline and tried to stop it. He said the driver went behind Valvoline before she stopped and allegedly gave him a a false name.

She was identified by police as Jessie Connelly, 25, of Rochelle St. in Manchester. They said the car she was driving was not hers.

Police recovered cash, some jewelry and a priceless coin with the victim's name on it. She is also charged with disobeying an officer and driving after her license was suspended.

Connelly was held on cash bail over the weekend and was schedule to appear in the 6th Circuit Court, Franklin Division yesterday afternoon.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 05 November 2013 03:34

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Correction: Gilmanton firefighter was no longer officer at time of alleged theft of town gasoline

Gilmanton Fire Chief Joe Hempel III said Saturday that Bryon McSharry resigned as a fire lieutenant in June and was listed on the department roster as a firefighter when his alleged theft of gasoline from the town occurred. The story about McSharry's arrest was published on page 1 of the November 1 edition.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 05 November 2013 03:17

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Meredith spending would rise 3.2% in 2014 under plan drafted by town manager

MEREDITH — Town Manager Phil Warren outlined his proposed budget for 2014 to the Board of Selectmen at a workshop yesterday. He recommended increasing municipal expenditures by $430,186, or 3.2 percent, from $13,627,664 to $14,057,850.

Warren began by recalling the parameters set by the selectmen in September when they agreed that current service levels, themselves reduced from prior years, should be maintained without introducing new programs or services. Likewise, no new positions should be created and no job reclassifications should be approved while vacancies would be evaluated as they occur rather than automatically filled. The Capital Improvement Program (CIP) should continue to be funded, with consideration to deferred expenditures for replacing equipment and improving roads as well as to reconstructing the Public Works facility. Finally, the Selectboard agreed to weigh step raises and salary adjustments for employees once the budget is complete in January.

Warren said that he was recommending increases of $218,406 in the town operating budget and $106,000 in the water and sewer operating budget. The CIP budget of $1,792,000 would include $277,312 for new projects, $475,000 for expendable trust funds and the balance in debt service. Expendable trust funds of $200,000 for the Fire Department and $275,000 for the Public Works Department would be applied to purchases of a rescue vehicle and equipment replacement. An appropriation of $177,000 would be applied to exterior renovations at the library.

The town budget includes an appropriation for the Lakes Region Mutual Fire Aid Association budget, which was stricken from the county budget and will now be billed directly to member municipalities. The budgets of the police, fire and parks and recreation departments were increased to meet the cost of operating facilities and replacing equipment.

Warren said that workers compensation costs are expected to rise 7 percent and health insurance premiums by an equal amount, which he described as "very competitive in this market."

Warren told the selectmen he projects $397,000 will be added to the undesignated fund balance at year, bringing the total to $2.5 million. This year $1,475,000 was drawn from the fund balance of $3.6-million, of which $750,000 was spent on capital projects and $725,000 was added to revenues to offset to reduce the amount raised by property taxes. Warren anticipated that less could be withdrawn to offset property taxes in 2014 than in past years.

The selectmen will hold work sessions on the budget on December 9, 10 and 11, beginning at 4 p.m. in the Town Hall Annex.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 05 November 2013 03:12

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