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Woman convicted for role in January Lebanon robbery

HAVERHILL — A Grafton County Superior Court jury took only an hour Wednesday to return a guilty verdict against a 20-year-old Newport woman for her role in the January robbery of the Baymont Inn in Lebanon in which police say two men wielded a knife and threatened a desk clerk.

In convicting Ashley Hayward — who once worked at the Baymont — the eight men and four women issued a clear rejection of her claim that she was an unwilling accomplice forced by two robbers to drive her car in the getaway after they robbed the inn by force while threatening a terrified night clerk.

&#';I guess they didn&#';t go for the &#';duress defense,&#'; &#';Assistant Grafton County Attorney Jack Bell said Wednesday.

&#';That defense is not absolutely clearly recognized by New Hampshire law,&#'; said Bell, who said defense attorney Adam Hescock had to get the permission of trial Judge Timothy J. Vaughan to use the strategy.

Robbery using threat of force is a Class B felony. Hayward, who is free on $20,000 personal recognizance bail, faces 3 to 7 years in prison at her sentencing hearing, set for Nov. 13 in the North Haverhill court.

The state dismissed a second count against Hayward, conspiracy to commit robbery, before the start of the two-day trial.

Bell said he and co-prosecutor, Assistant Grafton County Attorney Mary Bleier, were pleased with the verdict.

&#';It always feels good when we prevail,&#'; he said.

Hescock, of the New Hampshire Public Defender&#';s Office in Orford, said Wednesday it wouldn&#';t be fair to his client for him to answer questions for publication before he&#';d had a chance to discuss the matter with her.

Hayward, of Dale Street in Newport, was accused of traveling from Somerville, Mass., to West Lebanon on Jan. 10 with her boyfriend, Tyler J. Dodge, 20, of Beech Street in Newport, and an associate of his, Marvin &#';Clu&#'; Jones, 22, to rob the Baymont Inn, where she had worked as a night clerk until she left that job shortly before the robbery.

Lebanon Police Department Detective Richard Norris testified Tuesday that &#';Clu&#'; is Jones&#'; street name, and that he&#';s a member of a Boston-area gang. A Grafton County grand jury indictment handed up in May listed a Main Street address in Charlestown, Mass., for Jones.

Dodge is jailed and is awaiting trial — tentatively set for mid-February — on robbery charges in connection with the Baymont incident. Attorney Leonard Harden of Whitefield filed an appearance for Dodge on Sept. 13, according to court records.

New Hampshire prosecutors have obtained an arrest warrant for Jones, who is believed to be jailed in Florida on an unrelated matter.

On the witness stand Tuesday, Norris described detectives confronting Hayward at her home with the accusation that she had taken part in the robbery.

&#';We told her that she drove the two guys to commit the robbery. She told us she wouldn&#';t do that.&#';

Later, when police repeated that she was the driver, she admitted she had been, Norris testified. He said Hayward told them that she and Dodge were broke and needed money for food before the robbery, in which an undisclosed amount of cash was taken.

The Baymont Inn, a short distance from the Route 12A business district in West Lebanon, is set off by itself on a hill that leads to Lebanon Municipal Airport.

The robbery was recorded on the inn&#';s surveillance cameras, and the video was shown to the jury Tuesday.

Two men wearing masks and hooded sweatshirts are shown yelling threats at night clerk Ashleigh Myrick and forcing her to unlock a cash drawer. After the two ran out of the lobby, the tape, which includes an audio recording, shows a distraught and crying Myrick calling police and saying she&#';d just been robbed.

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Bob Hookway may be reached at

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