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Judge Increases Driver’s Bail in Croydon Crash That Killed Two

  • Kristin Lake, formerly of Sharon, right, and her attorney James Valente, left, leave Newport District Court after a hearing in which her bail was set at $100,000 personal recognizance in Newport, N.H., Tuesday, October 10, 2017. Lake is charged with negligent homicide and aggravated DUI relating to a crash on Route 10 in Croydon, N.H. in September in which the driver and passenger of another car were killed. Judge Bruce Cardello is at left. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Newport District Court Judge Bruce Cardello, center, talks with defense attorney James Valente, right, and prosecutor Justin Hersh, left, during a bail hearing in Newport, N.H., for Kristin Lake, formerly of Sharon, Tuesday, October 10, 2017. Lake, who is charged with negligent homicide and aggravated DUI, was released on $100,000 personal recognizance bail after the hearing. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Perley Rich, of Canaan, right, and his wife Donna, relatives of Michelle Fenimore who died in a September car accident on Route 10 in Croydon, talk with reporters after attending a bail hearing for Kristin Lake, of Sharon, at Newport District Court in Newport, N.H., Tuesday, October 10, 2017. Lake is charged with negligent homicide and aggravated DUI in the head on crash that killed Fenimore and Nicholas Carpenter. Rich, who considers Fenimore his granddaughter, said he could forgive Lake, but felt that there should be justice and responsibility taken for the loss of life. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Paint marks from police investigators and stains of leaked oil remain on Route 10 in Croydon, N.H., Tuesday, October 10, 2017, in the shadow of crosses placed for Michelle Fenimore and Nicholas Carpenter, who died in a head-on crash with Kristin Lake, formerly of Sharon, in September. Lake faces charges of negligent homicide and aggravated DUI in relation to the crash. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Newport — A 22-year-old Vermont woman charged with killing two J.C. Penney employees in a head-on collision last month told police she was “buzzed” but felt comfortable driving when she left the Newport Moose Lodge and headed north on Route 10 through Croydon, a prosecutor said in court on Tuesday.

Assistant Sullivan County Attorney Justin Hersh said Kristin Lake, who faces charges of negligent homicide and aggravated driving under the influence, told law enforcement she nodded off briefly around 11:15 p.m. on Sept. 22, and awoke to find that she had crossed the centerline.

She attempted to swerve when she saw lights coming at her, but it was too late, and she slammed into the oncoming Volvo, Hersh said during Lake’s bail hearing in Newport District Court.

“Two people (are) deceased on account of a poor decision Ms. Lake made that night,” Hersh said as he encouraged Newport District Court Judge Bruce Cardello to increase Lake’s $50,000 personal recognizance bail to $100,000 cash.

Michelle Fenimore, 20, and Nicholas Carpenter, 18, died from injuries they sustained in the crash. Fenimore was engaged to Carpenter’s brother, Trevor Morse, family members said outside of the courthouse.

The three had moved to Newport from Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom about three months ago to be closer to family. Fenimore and Carpenter were returning home from working shifts at the West Lebanon J.C. Penney on the night of the crash, relatives said.

Lake’s attorney James Valente, of Brattleboro, Vt., argued against cash bail on Tuesday. He said Lake isn’t a flight risk or a danger to herself or others, which are factors in imposing bail in New Hampshire.

She has no prior criminal record, has cooperated with investigators throughout the process and has a supportive family, including a mother who works as a guardian ad litem, Valente said.

Valente also mentioned two possible defenses. He said evidence appears to show Fenimore, who was driving, made a sudden turn into Lake’s lane that night. In addition, he said, it’s unclear if Lake’s blood alcohol content was over the legal limit of .08 at the time of the crash.

When hospital staff drew her blood at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon after the collision, the results showed she had a BAC of .114, Hersh said in court.

But that level could have increased after the crash depending on when Lake consumed the alcohol, Valente said.

Lake told police she consumed two drinks with hard liquor with a friend at the lodge that evening and described the first one as “very strong,” Hersh said. She described herself as “buzzed” and characterized her level of impairment as a four on a scale of zero to 10.

The judge kept in place the personal recognizance bail order that was imposed on the night of the crash, but doubled the amount to $100,000, meaning Lake would have to forfeit that amount if she failed to appear to court. Cardello also ordered Lake not to drink alcohol or drive a vehicle, among many other things.

Lake, who had a cast on her left leg and walked with crutches, waived her right to a probable cause hearing on Tuesday, so her case will be bound over to Sullivan Superior Court for possible indictment. She currently faces four felonies: two negligent homicide charges and two aggravated driving under the influence charges. She hasn’t entered pleas.

Lake had been living and working in Sharon as a farmhand at the time of the crash. She now is residing with family in South Londonderry, Vt.

Fenimore’s grandparents, Perley and Donna Rich, of Canaan, attended the hearing and spoke highly of their granddaughter, who came into their lives at age 9, when their son met Fenimore’s mother.

“She was kind and loving,” Perley Rich said. “She was loved by so many. Her heart was never full. She always had room for others.”

The Riches said their granddaughter had already picked out a gown for her upcoming wedding, and said they were juggling emotions.

“There is a difference between forgiveness and justice,” Perley Rich said. “We can forgive this young lady, but there needs to be justice.”

“We are not out for blood,” Donna Rich added. “Just some sort of justice.”

“It’s going to be three lives ruined plus family, and we understand that,” she said. “It’s just such a tragedy.”

 Jordan Cuddemi can be reached at jcuddemi@vnews.com or 603-727-3248.

Correction

This story has been updated to reflect that James Valente’s law office is in Brattleboro, Vt.