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Driver Charged in Fatal Crash to Remain in Jail Into January

  • Robert J. Dellinger

    Robert J. Dellinger

  • Assistant attorney general Diana Fenton, left, confers with senior assistant attorney general Jeffery Strelzin on Dec. 27, 2013, in Lebanon District Court in Lebanon, N.H., during the arraignment of Robert Dellinger, who appeared via teleconference from Grafton County House of Corrections in North Haverhill, N.H. Dellinger was denied a bail hearing and will remain in custody until his next court appearance Jan. 14.<br/>Valley News - Jennifer Hauck

    Assistant attorney general Diana Fenton, left, confers with senior assistant attorney general Jeffery Strelzin on Dec. 27, 2013, in Lebanon District Court in Lebanon, N.H., during the arraignment of Robert Dellinger, who appeared via teleconference from Grafton County House of Corrections in North Haverhill, N.H. Dellinger was denied a bail hearing and will remain in custody until his next court appearance Jan. 14.
    Valley News - Jennifer Hauck

  • With support of state victims' advocate Lynda Ruel, right, Deborah Blanchard listens in Lebanon District Court in Lebanon, N.H., on Dec. 27, 2013, at the arraignment of Robert Dellinger, whom New Hampshire prosecutors are charging with two counts of second-degree murder in connection with Dec. 7 collision that killed Blanchard's son, Jason Timmons of Wilder, and Timmons' pregnant fiancee Amanda Murphy<br/>Valley News - Jennifer Hauck

    With support of state victims' advocate Lynda Ruel, right, Deborah Blanchard listens in Lebanon District Court in Lebanon, N.H., on Dec. 27, 2013, at the arraignment of Robert Dellinger, whom New Hampshire prosecutors are charging with two counts of second-degree murder in connection with Dec. 7 collision that killed Blanchard's son, Jason Timmons of Wilder, and Timmons' pregnant fiancee Amanda Murphy
    Valley News - Jennifer Hauck

  • Robert J. Dellinger
  • Assistant attorney general Diana Fenton, left, confers with senior assistant attorney general Jeffery Strelzin on Dec. 27, 2013, in Lebanon District Court in Lebanon, N.H., during the arraignment of Robert Dellinger, who appeared via teleconference from Grafton County House of Corrections in North Haverhill, N.H. Dellinger was denied a bail hearing and will remain in custody until his next court appearance Jan. 14.<br/>Valley News - Jennifer Hauck
  • With support of state victims' advocate Lynda Ruel, right, Deborah Blanchard listens in Lebanon District Court in Lebanon, N.H., on Dec. 27, 2013, at the arraignment of Robert Dellinger, whom New Hampshire prosecutors are charging with two counts of second-degree murder in connection with Dec. 7 collision that killed Blanchard's son, Jason Timmons of Wilder, and Timmons' pregnant fiancee Amanda Murphy<br/>Valley News - Jennifer Hauck

Lebanon — A Lebanon District Court judge ruled that a 53-year-old Sunapee man will remain in custody at the Grafton County House of Corrections until at least mid-January while awaiting a court date on charges of second-degree murder in connection with a collision on Interstate 89 that killed a Wilder couple,

During a brief arraignment Friday morning where Robert Dellinger, a former chief financial officer of PPG Industries, appeared via teleconference from the county jail in North Haverhill, Judge Lawrence MacLeod denied a request for a bail hearing from Dellinger's defense lawyer.

MacLeod also approved Jan. 14 as the date for a probable cause hearing.

Dellinger, who did not enter a plea at the arraignment on Friday, was initially charged with manslaughter after he allegedly drove his pickup truck across the median strip of I-89 in Lebanon on Dec. 7, hitting a vehicle carrying Amanda Murphy, 24, and her 29-year-old fiance, Jason Timmons.

New Hampshire prosecutors last week sought second-degree murder charges that accuse Dellinger of “recklessly causing the deaths (of Murphy and Timmons) … under circumstances manifesting an extreme indifference to the value of human life.”

Timmons' mother, Deborah Blanchard of Enfield, sat through the arraignment alongside New Hampshire victims' advocate Lynda Ruel, and declined comment on her way out of the hearing.

“She needed to be here for her son,” Ruel said. “It's a hard day, and the time of year makes it harder.”

Murphy was eight months pregnant and her unborn daughter did not survive the accident. (Under New Hampshire law, homicide charges do not apply to the death of a fetus.)

Sitting in the two rows of benches behind Blanchard and Ruel were more than a dozen family and friends of Dellinger, and they conferred with Lebanon attorney Peter DeCato after the hearing. DeCato is representing Dellinger, who throughout the arraignment stared straight ahead without speaking, occasionally casting his eyes downward before raising them back to the camera. Prosecutors have said that Dellinger told police after the collision that he was trying to commit suicide.

“It's tough on everybody,” DeCato said after the arraignment.

She later added: “We're all trying to find out what happened.”

After Friday's arraignment, Assistant Attorney General Diana Fenton said her office upgraded the charges after “we looked at the facts and the evidence, and felt it was appropriate.” Senior Assistant Attorney General Jeffery Strelzin added that all documents related to the case are sealed while the prosecution prepares its case.

Dellinger had been released after posting $250,000 cash-only bail in mid-December, but has was taken back into custody last week when the charges were upgraded. A conviction on second-degree murder carries up to a life-in-prison sentence in New Hampshire.

Last week, the Sunapee Police Department released records showing that three days before the collision, police helped an ambulance crew at Dellinger's lakeside home during what the dispatcher's log described as a “medical call for possible hypothermia.”

The log reported that upon arriving at the house on the morning of Dec. 4, Dellinger's wife “advised (that) her husband was suffering from symptoms of Ambien withdrawal.” The log goes on to note that Dellinger “advised he was OK, just cold,” and that he ended up not getting in the ambulance.

DeCato said after Friday's arraignment that he plans to again seek his client's release on bail, if the case moves to Grafton County Superior Court.

David Corriveau can be reached at dacorriveau@gmail.com.