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Court records show woman set to admit ex-boyfriend's murder

BRENTWOOD - A Londonderry woman charged with shooting to death her ex-boyfriend has struck a plea deal with state prosecutors prior to being indicted on murder charges, according to court records.

Nicole LeBlanc, 39, is returning to court on Dec. 28 to admit to killing Richard Mannion Jr. of Sandown earlier this year while he slept in his own bed, according to court documents.

Terms of the plea deal have not been made public, so for now it remains unknown whether LeBlanc will be allowed to plead guilty to a lesser charge. She is charged with first-degree murder, which carries of a term of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Judge Marguerite Wageling has scheduled a two-hour plea-and-sentencing hearing to resolve the case.

Mannion, a divorced father of four, was found dead inside his Sandown home around 5 p.m. on Jan. 14 by his current girlfriend, according to state police.

State police used a wiretap on Feb. 21 to record LeBlanc confessing to a friend over the phone that she killed Mannion, took his cell phone and searched his computer after the murder, according to a police affidavit.

"In those conversations, LeBlanc stated directly that she had shot and killed the victim," state police Sgt. Joseph Ebert said in a sworn affidavit. "LeBlanc also detailed how she had entered the victim's house and had killed him."

Court records suggest that LeBlanc may have undergone a mental evaluation earlier this year. Her public defenders filed a sealed motion in Rockingham County Superior Court on April 20 requesting funds to pay for the services of a forensic psychologist, court records say.

Wageling approved the request.

State prosecutors then asked Wageling for an extension twice in seeking an indictment against LeBlanc.

Months before LeBlanc was charged with murder, she had been ordered by a judge to stay away from Mannion.

LeBlanc was convicted of simple assault from an incident involving Mannion last August. She twice violated a no-contact order by appearing at Mannion's home in Sandown on Dec. 25 and Dec. 28, the affidavit says.

State police say LeBlanc had stolen the murder weapon, a handgun, from her friend Dennis Johnson.

Johnson, who has not been charged in the case, agreed to work with police after disposing of some evidence and hiring a lawyer, according to a police affidavit.

Police say that Johnson elicited details from LeBlanc during the phone call in which she admitted to the murder.

Mannion's body was found in his bed with a single gunshot wound to the back of the head, the affidavit says. Police believe the murder happened in the early morning hours, because Mannion's cell phone shows he was sending text messages until about midnight, court documents show.

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James A. Kimble may be reached at JKimble@newstote.com.


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