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N.H. high court upholds negligent-homicide conviction in 2009 Franklin crash

The state Supreme Court has upheld the negligent-homicide conviction of a woman who struck two people, and killed one, with her car on Central Street in Franklin.

In a 5-0 decision issued yesterday, the high court affirmed Lynn Dion’s conviction in the June 2009 death of Genny Bassett, 36, after Dion hit her and another woman while they were crossing the street.

Dion, of Franklin, was convicted by a Merrimack County jury in 2011 and sentenced to 1 to 3 years in prison. She appealed to the Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments in the case last October.

Dion argued that talking on a cell phone while driving, as she was doing before the crash, isn’t a crime and should not be grounds for a finding of criminal negligence.

But in her seven-page opinion, Associate Justice Carol Ann Conboy wrote that “the issue here is not whether cell phone use while driving is per se blameworthy. Rather, the issue is whether inattention caused by cell phone use or any other ‘legal’ activity, resulting in the failure to avoid a pedestrian in a crosswalk, demonstrates a level of carelessness the seriousness of which should be ‘apparent to anyone who shares the community’s general sense of right and wrong.’ ”

Conboy concluded that the fact Dion didn’t see the two women in the crosswalk and didn’t apply her brakes, despite a clear line of sight and ample time, is evidence that her “inattention was ‘a gross deviation from the conduct that a reasonable person would observe in the situation.’ ”

The court also upheld the superior court’s decision to allow cell phone records as evidence in the case.

(Ben Leubsdorf can be reached at 369-3307 or
bleubsdorf@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @BenLeubsdorf.)

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