LACONIA — Citing the impact her crime has had on the community, a judge has denied the request of a city woman who struck and killed a school girl with her Jeep in 2013 to transition from prison to a halfway house.
Amy Lafond, 57, accepted the terms of a fully negotiated plea in exchange for the state dropping a manslaughter charge that could have kept her behind bars for up to 30 years. Her driver’s license has been suspended indefinitely.
Lafond pleaded guilty to negligent homicide for failing to keep a proper lookout behind the wheel, and to second-degree assault for hitting another middle school student during the same incident, shattering her pelvis, lacerating her spleen, breaking three ribs, bruising a lung and causing a gash on her foot.
The N.H. Department of Corrections had submitted a motion on Lafond’s behalf asking that she be allowed to move to a halfway house and to continue to work in the community in preparation for her release.
Judge James D. O’Neill III, who originally sentenced Lafond in front of a courtroom packed with the victims’ friends and families, rejected a previous request for early release based on good-time credit earned. O’Neill also denied a request to reduce Lafond’s first sentence by 180 days, which would have allowed her to begin serving her second sentence early.
While the County Attorney’s Office had previously objected to Lafond’s requests, it did not oppose the DOC’s motion this time, suggesting Lafond’s rehabilitation would be enhanced by being allowed to live in a halfway house while working in the community.
At prior hearings, Alyssa Miner, who was severely injured when she was struck from behind by Lafond’s SUV on the sidewalk of the Messer Street bridge, has said she suffers from survivor’s guilt and the loss of her best friend, Lilyanna Johnson.
During the Nov. 19 hearing, the judge questioned Barbara Belmont, the county’s victim witness advocate. She disclosed that her office had contacted both families via email or phone, complying with the terms of the Victim’s Rights Act and that each had opposed Lafond’s transfer to a halfway house. Both spoke of the severity of her crime, its impact and their belief that Lafond has failed to show remorse by continuing to refer to the incident as an accident, Belmont said.
Lafond’s husband, Marc, said outside the courthouse that his family is suffering too with Lafond’s continued imprisonment. During a video conference from the women’s prison where she has served four and a half years, Lafond told the judge she wanted to work to help support her family and to pay the $265,000 in restitution ordered by the court.
“I show remorse every day; I am sorry for what happened. I would take it back if I could, but that’s not possible,” she said.
She is eligible for release in September, but the Adult Parole Board typically does not grant it unless an inmate has transitioned to a halfway house and shown steady employment. She will remain on supervised parole until she is 67 years old.