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Joyce Endee

Blizzard found guilty of negligent homicide

March 24, 2010
After two days of deliberations, which followed a lengthy trial case, jurors found Erica Blizzard guilty of negligent homicide for failure to maintain a proper lookout on the water, causing a fatal boat crash on Lake Winnipesaukee.

On June 15, 2008, Blizzard, 36, of Lakeport, was piloting a 37-foot boat on Lake Winnipesaukee and crashed into Diamond Island around 2:30 a.m. The impact of the crash killed her close friend Stephanie Beaudoin, 34, of Meredith. Blizzard and her other passenger, 36-year-old Nicole Shinopulos, also suffered severe injuries as a result of the crash.

Belknap County Attorney James Carroll said the jury was unable to reach a verdict on the two remaining charges, which were negligent homicide by intoxication, and aggravated driving while intoxicated, resulting in bodily harm. These two charges were "miss-trialed," unless prosecutors wish to retry Blizzard on these two charges. No further action has been taken at this time.

Although Blizzard was not found guilty on all three charges, Carroll said he feels there has been some justice.

"I am pleased for Stephanie and the Beaudoin family; I think it brings them some closure. I am proud of the system, and the jury worked hard," said Carroll. "I didn't think the trial would be quite so long, but you do what you have to do."

Before the jury made its final verdict last Thursday, they spent most of the day Tuesday in deliberations. Toward the end of that first day, the jurors asked Judge Kathleen McGuire what would happen if they couldn't agree on a verdict. The jurors also asked questions in reference to the timing of the three and a half alcoholic beverages Blizzard allegedly drank during the course of the night, as well as specifications on blood-alcohol levels.

Jurors met for a final day of deliberations Thursday, as one juror had a scheduling conflict Wednesday. Had they not reached a verdict, McGuire said, the case would have been retried.

During the trial, Carroll argued that Blizzard's blood alcohol level was one and a half times the legal limit, 0.08, during the time of the crash. Concord attorney James Moir attempted to dispute these claims.

Moir brought in an expert to explain the science of ethyl-alcohol, and how it affects the body during times of trauma, while the expert suggested the alcohol sat in Blizzard's stomach during the time of the crash, and that the alcohol slowed its absorption after Blizzard ate and drank over a five-hour period the night of the incident.

During the final day of the trial two weeks ago, Blizzard testified and disputed claims that she was intoxicated at the time of the crash. She said she did keep a proper lookout, but the dark and rainy weather conditions made it almost impossible to gauge where she was on Winnipesaukee.

Blizzard is looking at three and a half to seven years in jail. This is considered to be less "serious" than the unsettled charges. She will be sentenced on April 21.

Salmon Press
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Martin Lord Osman
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