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State v. Belleville

Supreme Court of New Hampshire

February 11, 2014

The State of New Hampshire
v.
Chad Belleville

Argued: October 17, 2013.

Merrimack.

Michael A. Delaney, attorney general ( Diana E. Fenton, assistant attorney general, on the brief and orally), for the State.

David M. Rothstein, deputy chief appellate defender, of Concord, on the brief and orally, for the defendant.

CONBOY, J. DALIANIS, C.J., and HICKS, LYNN and BASSETT, JJ., concurred.

OPINION

Page 919

[166 N.H. 59] Conboy, J.

The defendant, Chad Belleville, appeals his conviction for second degree assault following a bench trial in Superior Court ( O'Neill, J.), arguing that the State presented insufficient evidence to prove that he acted recklessly. See RSA 631:2 (2007) (amended 2010). We affirm.

The court could have found the following facts. The defendant's conviction stems from a motor vehicle accident that seriously injured the child of another motorist, which occurred on December 23, 2010, at approximately 9:15 p.m. on Route 28 near Pittsfield. The section of Route 28 where the accident occurred contains three travel lanes: (1) a northbound travel lane; (2) a median turning lane measuring approximately the width of two lanes and set off from the travel lanes bye two sets of solid double yellow lines; and (3) a southbound travel lane. The defendant was driving southbound in a Ford Explorer, a sport utility vehicle (SUV). Corey Pickering was driving in the opposite direction, in the northbound lane, followed by a Subaru occupied by Tressa Flanders (Flanders), who was in the front passenger seat, Flanders' husband, who was driving, and their son (the victim) and two daughters, who were in the back seat. Behind the Flanderses' vehicle was a Honda driven by Evan Welch. It was dark and the weather was dry, clear, and cold.

Just before the accident, Pickering observed the defendant's SUV, traveling in the opposite direction, drifting into the median lane. The SUV [166 N.H. 60] came within inches of Pickering's driver's side mirror and Pickering had to swerve his vehicle to avoid being hit. Pickering then saw in his rearview mirror that the SUV hit the Flanderses' Subaru.

Prior to the collision, Flanders saw headlights from an oncoming vehicle and yelled to her husband to " watch out." Her husband tried to swerve to avoid being hit, but the oncoming vehicle hit the driver's side of their car. Welch saw the Subaru " fishtail[ ] really suddenly" and saw its back end " explode into a lot of pieces." He then saw " headlights coming straight at [him]" and within a couple of seconds, the SUV hit his vehicle. Welch skidded

Page 920

into the passenger side of the Subaru and both vehicles came to a stop on the side of the road. The SUV " traveled across a small field" and came to rest alongside the road.

Immediately after the collision, Flanders " saw a gaping hole" in the back of the Subaru on the driver's side and noticed that her son was no longer in the vehicle. She climbed out of the vehicle, made sure that her daughters and her husband were not seriously injured, and then looked for her son. She located him lying " in a cradled position." As a result of the accident, her son sustained a traumatic brain ...


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