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Plaistow lawyer charged in boating crash contests use of his statements at trial

Union Leader Correspondent

May 27. 2014 8:15PM
Lawrence A. Buswell Jr., 53, left, leans on a chair and listens to testimony on Tuesday in Rockingham County Superior Court. Buswell is charged with negligent homicide and three counts of second-degree assault. (JAMES A. KIMBLE/Union Leader Correspondent)

BRENTWOOD — A Plaistow lawyer charged with negligent homicide is contesting whether prosecutors can use statements he made about causing a boat crash that claimed the life of a 54-year-old Merrimack man.

Lawyers for Lawrence A. Buswell Jr., 53, appeared in Rockingham County Superior Court on Tuesday, arguing that their client was in police custody on the night of May 26, 2012, while being questioned at his parents’ waterfront home on Country Pond in Kingston.

Prosecutors say Buswell, of Kingston, negligently piloted his Correct Craft boat when it collided with another boat piloted by 54-year-old Eric Eskeland, who died from his injuries. Buswell faces three counts of second-degree assault for injuring three other passengers in Eskeland’s boat, prosecutors said.

Buswell, who remains free on bail, has other legal troubles pending in Rockingham County as well.

He is expected to go on trial in late July in a separate case on charges of felonious sexual assault for allegedly raping a 15-year-old boy on his boat sometime in July 2011. Buswell took the boy swimming on Country Pond and provided him alcohol before sexually assaulting him, a prosecutor said. On the night of the boating crash, first-responders and police arrived shortly after 11:30 p.m. at the home of Buswell’s parents, who own a campground on the lake, according to court testimony on Tuesday. New Hampshire State Police Trooper Anthony Cattabriga testified that he had a conversation with Buswell in a mudroom of the home, where Buswell gave a brief synopsis of the crash, Cattabriga said.

Buswell, an attorney, took a short call on his cellphone and then ended the conversation with the trooper.

“He respectfully declined to speak to me,” Cattabriga testified. Buswell was told by investigators that he could not leave, according to defense lawyers.

Marine Patrol Sgt. David Ouellette testified that he arrived on the scene shortly after 1 a.m. and found Buswell standing inside a garage alongside Cattabriga and Ben LeDuc, an assistant county attorney who had been dispatched to the scene.

Ouellette said that Buswell appeared to be upset, but made a statement about the crash when he asked what happened.

“He told me he was a lawyer. I thought that was a little odd,” Ouellette testified. “I asked him what happened. He told me he was delivering newspapers and was headed home and did not see the boat when he crashed.”

Ouellette said in court that Buswell lives in a home on the other side of the lake from his parents’ residence.

Investigators had ruled out alcohol as a factor in the crash, but took Buswell to Exeter Hospital so a blood sample could be taken to test as possible evidence, witnesses said. Defense lawyer Patrick Devine argued on Tuesday that when Buswell declined to speak any further to Cattabriga, he should not have been questioned further by Ouellette. Devine said that neither investigator read Buswell his Miranda rights before questioning him.

Assistant County Attorney Lisa Cirulli argued that investigators did not have to read Buswell his Miranda rights.

She also suggested that Buswell’s refusal to answer Cattabriga’s question did not apply to Ouellette as well.

“(Ouellette) simple asked him what happened,” Cirulli said.

Judge N. William Delker quizzed the prosecution and defense lawyers about whether Buswell still had an indefinite right to silence even if he was not in police custody. Delker took the arguments under advisement.

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