Friday, June 17, 2005

Court Upholds Boating Death Convctions

Supreme Court Upholds Boating Death Conviction Court Rejects Claim Of Faulty Jury Instructions POSTED: 11:43 am EDT June 16, 2005 UPDATED: 12:27 pm EDT June 16, 2005 CONCORD, N.H. -- The state Supreme Court on Thursday upheld boater Daniel Littlefield's negligent homicide conviction in a nighttime boating crash that killed a Bedford man in 2002. The court unanimously rejected Littlefield's claim that the judge gave faulty instructions to the jury. The court also said the judge did not abuse his discretion in sentencing Littlefield to at least 2½ years in prison. "The trial judge clearly considered the defendant's life history, his lack of any criminal record, his demeanor throughout the length of the trial, and the tremendous impact of the trial and sentence on both the defendant and his family," Chief Justice John Broderick wrote in a 14-page decision released Thursday. Littlefield, who is about 40 and lives in Meredith, was going about 28 mph on a 36-foot speedboat the night of Aug. 11, 2002, when the boat struck and ran over a 20-foot boat owned by John Hartman, 69, who was killed. At his trial, Littlefield's lawyers argued Hartman turned off the main light in his boat so his wife, son and the son's girlfriend could see the stars. An expert testified at the trial the lights probably were on. Littlefield and his passengers testified they knew they had hit something but concluded it wasn't serious because the other boat sped away. Prosecutors said Littlefield, his wife and two adult passengers left the crash site despite calls for help. Littlefield didn't make contact with the police until the day after the crash, but he wasn't charged with leaving the scene of an accident. At the time, there was no law allowing that charge. He testified he may have "glanced off" something in the water, but had no idea he had struck a boat until he heard about the accident the next day. At his 19-day trial, the jury convicted Littlefield of being inattentive but acquitted him of the more serious charge of driving the boat, owned by his father, while drunk. A local police chief who saw Littlefield at a restaurant before the crash testified that he was obviously impaired and in no condition to be driving a boat. Other witnesses disagreed. Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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