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Jury selection for trial of band leader Eric Grant will begin on Monday

LACONIA — Jury selection for the aggravated felonious sexual assault trial of the lead singer and namesake of the Eric Grant Band is scheduled to begin Monday morning. The trial is scheduled to being on November 11.

Grant is being tried for an alleged 2006 New Years Eve digital penetration of a girl who 10-years-old at the time. He was indicted by a Belknap County grand jury in December of 2012 and has steadfastly proclaimed his innocence.

According to paperwork filed with the court, the alleged victim reported the incident to a therapist in California in 2012, who in turn reported it to police. Locally, the case was investigated by the Belknap County Sheriff's Department and allegedly happened in Gilford.

Grant, through his attorney Emily McLaughlin, had asked the court for permission to present a video-tape of the therapist's deposition or interview by attorneys while under oath as evidence on his innocence, arguing that the expense and timing difficulties involved in the out-of-state subpoena process are prohibitive.

Assistant Belknap County Prosecutor Carley Ahern objected to the video disposition, saying she would be unable to effectively cross examine any testimony offered by the therapist and Judge James O'Neill agreed, ruling that if the defense wants her to testify she must be in the court room because the defense hasn't shown that the deposition video-tape is anything but hearsay or that it meets the exceptions under the hearsay rule.

The therapist is not one of the people Ahern plans to call to the stand, although McLaughlin argued at a hearing earlier this week that her statements to California police triggered the entire investigation.

McLaughlin has said she will show the jury evidence that the girl's statement to the California investigating officer about that night differed significantly from what she told other people.

McLaughlin said Grant has contended all along that girl exaggerated a story about him allegedly giving her a "wedgie" in a room full of people because she was mad at her mother, who was allegedly in the room but supposedly didn't nothing to stop Grant.

"That's why she hated her mother," said McLaughlin, making her argument earlier in week to allow the deposition of the therapist to be entered as a defense exhibit and played for the jury.

O'Neill also ruled that the defense may not call a Gilford Police officer to testify that Grant — who is related to him by marriage — is of good character. He agreed with Ahern who said that in order for someone to testify about a defendant's "good character" the evidence must be relevant or the prosecution must have challenged Grant's ability to be truthful, which it has not.

The jury can expect to hear from the alleged victim, her mother, and other relatives who were at the 2006 New Year's Eve party.

McLaughlin also submitted questions she would like O'Neill to ask potential jurors during Monday's "voir dire" or jury selection. He had previously denied her request to ask the questions herself.

Included in her proposed questions for the prospective jurors include whether or not he or she has ever been the victim of a sexual assault or knows someone who has, if they have young children, and whether or not he or she believes a child who has told someone about an alleged sexual assault should automatically be believe.

O'Neill has previously said he would take lists of suggested juror questions from the prosecution and the defense and take them into consideration when he conducts "voir dire."

Last Updated on Saturday, 02 November 2013 12:33

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Ward 2: Voters will replace Lahey with either Beaudoin or Bownes

LACONIA — The contest for the City Council in Ward 2 features two unique candidates, Richard Beaudoin, who over the course of 35 years has acquired a reputation of being able to fix virtually anything electrical in the shop behind his home on Manchester Street, and David Bownes, an attorney and actor as well known for his performances in front of the footlights as in front of the bench.

Bownes served as a councilor at-large in from 1986 to 1988, when the council had nine members. He said that with no children still living at home, "It's about time I did something around here except go to meetings and complain." A mainstay of the Streetcar Company and Winnipesaukee Playhouse, he has been long been active in the cultural community and in 2011 was a member of the committee convened to explore acquiring and reopening the Colonial Theater.

In light of its central position and deteriorating condition, the theater, Bownes said, "is a problem in and of itself." He said that purchasing, restoring and operating the venue is "almost cost prohibitive," while suggesting that steps might be taken to improve the commercial and residential spaces attached to the auditorium.

Bownes said that "there are no looming issues facing the city," though he expected the pace of improving roads to continue and the central fire station to be renovated and expanded. Echoing other candidates, he expressed concern about the city's aging population and stressed the need to draw young families to the communities. To that end he said, "There are lots reasons to be optimistic about what we've done with the schools," referring to the renovation of the elementary schools, construction of the Middle School and expansion of the Huot Regional Technical Education Center. "That is going to make a huge difference." With the buildings in sound condition, Bownes said that "doing something to improve the performance of the schools" should be a priority.

"The most pressing issue," Bownes said, "is economic development. There really is a need to provide opportunities for employment." At the same time, he asked "how are we going to deal with it? We have to ask what do we want Laconia to be in 20 years," he remarked. He noted that the redevelopment of the Allen-Rogers property and the opening of several new restaurants downtown is promising, but confessed "I'm still looking for solutions. We need to think outside the box in terms of downtown."

"I've always enjoyed politics," Bownes remarked. "I think I can offer a reasonably intelligent voice and contribute, add to the discussion about where Laconia is going."

Beaudoin, with three write-in votes in the primary, earned a spot on the ballot in 2011, but lost in the general election to Matt Lahey, whose retirement prompted him to run again this year. "I think the city needs help," he said flatly. "We keep going over the same things again and again and coming up with the same answers."

'We've got to get industry back here," Beaudoin declared, observing that although his business is small, he regularly receives e-mails encouraging him to move his operation to another state or city. "We should advertise," he said. He found the recent investments in the Huot Center and Lakes Region Community College encouraging. "90-percent of what goes on at the industrial park is basically machining or advanced manufacturing," he said. "You've got to have bodies, skilled bodies."

Beaudoin said that the revitalization of downtown depends on attracting industry and increasing employment. "Get the factories, get the people and then get retail stores," he said, describing the mix of downtown retailers as tilted toward second-hand and consignment shops and "not really very attractive."

The Weirs, Beaudoin said, should become a year around destination in order to put waterfront property to its highest and best use. "There's a big difference between a two-a-half month bump in the economy and 12 months," he said. "The state is looking for a place to put a casino. That would bring the people in."

Beaudoin is opposed to a "Pay-As-You-Throw" program of trash collection and prefers the mandatory recycling program that began in July. "People are doing their best," he said, adding that the city should have provided toters free of charge. While he would like to see the city acquire the former Laconia State School property, he said "we shouldn't pay more than $1," explaining that the cost of addressing contamination on the site will run into the millions.

Bownes said that he has distributed signs and knocked on doors, but Beaudoin admitted "I haven't been doing a heck of a lot. I thought about signs, but being very frugal, or just plain cheap, and most people feel the same way I do about people knocking on their doors."

Last Updated on Saturday, 02 November 2013 12:27

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Gilmanton Fire officer charged with theft of town gasoline

GILMANTON — A lieutenant with the town Fire Department has been charged with theft for allegedly using the town gas pump to fill the tank of a personal vehicle..

Paperwork obtained from the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division said the Bryon McSharry of Halls Hill Road in Gilmanton Iron Works is scheduled to be arraigned for the Class B misdemeanor on November 21.

According to police affidavits, the theft was reported to police by a different firefighter who watched McSharry enter the Iron Works Station at 4:30 a.m. on October 22 and go to the forestry truck and then leave the building.

The firefighter checked the forestry truck and noticed the key to the fuel pump was missing. He told police he went outside and witnessed McSharry standing next to his personal vehicle which was parked at the municipal pump, "standing as if he were pumping gas."

The unnamed firefighter went back in to the Iron Works station and allegedly saw McSharry return to the forestry truck, open the cab door and then close it, after which he went into the office.

Affidavits said McSharry went upstairs to the living quarters of some student firefighters and asked the unnamed firefighter why he was there, to which the firefighters responded with the same question.

The firefighter reported to police that McSharry told him he was replacing a clogged floor drain and the battery in his portable radio.

The firefighter said he returned to the forestry unit and noticed the key had been returned. He also said told police he never saw McSharry replace any storm drain.

McSharry was arrested on October 27 by Gilmanton Police Officer Maxwell Hodgdon and released on personal recognizance bail. The case is being prosecuted by the Belmont Police prosecutor, who does all of Gilmanton's adult police prosecuting at the circuit court level.

Town Administrator Arthur Capello said yesterday that McSharry was a call firefighter and is no longer employed by Gilmanton. Beyond that he said he couldn't comment.

Last Updated on Saturday, 02 November 2013 12:23

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'Heart Attack' Tommy Mack will headline pro wrestling card at Tower Hill on November 9

LACONIA — Pro wrestling will return to the Lake City on Saturday, November 9 with a series of matches at the Tower Hill Club presented by Granite Pro Wrestling.
Wrestlers from the Pro Wrestling Academy will square off with the main event the PWA Heavyweight Championship pitting the champion, Laconia's own ''Heart Attack'' Tommy Mack against challenger Lucipher Lords.
Tom McCormack, Jr., who wrestles as ''Heart Attack'' Tommy Mack, is a 1999 Laconia High School graduate and a life-long professional wrestling fan who has been competing as a pro since 2002.
His ring persona is fashioned on a biker and he features tattoos up and down both arms. In some venues he will ride a motorcycle to and from the ring.
McCormack wrestles almost every weekend, sometimes on both Friday and Saturday nights, and trains every day while supporting himself by working as a stone mason with his father's company, Tom McCormack Masonry.
Other matches will pit Hall of Fame wrestler Tony Atlas, Mr. USA, against Don Vega, the Puerto Rican Punisher; former NWA tag team champion Ryan Genesis against former WOW star Rick Fuller, Da House Party against Sol De Oro and Wrecking Ball taking on ''The German Hammer'', Josef Von Schmidt.
The matches have a new venue this year, the Tower Hill Club at The Weirs, instead of Laconia High School. Doors open at 6 p.m. with bell time at 7 p.m.
There are 330 tickets available for the event which are priced at $12 in advance and $15 at the door. Tickets are on sale at the Tower Hill Tavern, Dr. Buckle and Mr. Hyde at Busy Corner and at the Looney Bin Bar and Grill.

PHOTO CAPTION

Tom McCormack, Jr., who wrestles as "'Heart Attack' Tommy Mack", holds the Pro Wrestling Academy Heavyweight Championship belt. He will defend his title in a professional wrestling event which will be held on Saturday, November 9 at the Tower Hill Club at The Weirs. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

Last Updated on Saturday, 02 November 2013 01:15

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