Years after fatal cycle crash, family keeps memory alive

JAFFREY — A lot has changed in the five years since Martin A. Taylor of Jaffrey died from injuries suffered in a motorcycle crash.

With each passing milestone or birth of a new family member, his family is reminded of the painful loss of the gregarious man they knew as Marty, who had a passion for fixing and riding motorcycles and told it like he saw it.

Like many families dealing with the loss of a loved one, members of the Taylor family say they take it one day at a time. Continue reading

Man accused of shooting fiance arraigned; bride in court

BRATTLEBORO — A Vermont man told police he was trying to unload a shotgun with one hand while driving when he shot his fiancee in the leg last month, according to court documents.

Robert P. Nantell, 44, of Vernon, was arraigned Tuesday morning in the Windham Criminal Division of Vermont Superior Court on charges of first-degree aggravated domestic assault, simple assault with a weapon and reckless endangerment. He pleaded not guilty through a public defender. Continue reading

Woman central to McLeod case died six years ago

As she awoke to flames on her bed, Sandra E. Walker tried smothering the fire with her hands before running to her bathroom and filling a coffee pot with water.

But as she returned to douse the blaze, as she would later describe to police, the fire had spread across the bed and the area around it.

Realizing she’d be unable to extinguish the fire, Walker said she ran out of her second-floor apartment, banging on the walls to wake up residents in other apartments in the High Street building.

Steve Hooper/Keene Sentinel

A family of four across the hall — Carl R. Hina, his wife of only three weeks, Lori M. Hina, their 4-month-old daughter, Lillian, and Carl’s 12-year-old daughter, Sara Jean — awoke to the commotion and dressed. But they wouldn’t make it out alive.

At 2:25 a.m., dispatchers from Southwestern N.H. District Fire Mutual Aid in Keene sent fire trucks to the building, located only a few blocks from the fire station. The first truck arrived four minutes later, dispatch records showed.

Firefighters searched the building for survivors, but never reached the Hinas as they navigated through a building quickly filling with an inky haze that cut visibility to zero, fire officials would say.

The family would later be found in a back room in the apartment, killed by smoke inhalation, according to a medical examiner. Cuts found on Carl Hina’s hands indicated they may have tried to escape by breaking a window, officials told The Sentinel in the days following the Jan. 14, 1989, fire. Continue reading

Trying to close a cold case

A murder trial scheduled to begin Monday in a deadly fire has been postponed by a legal challenge that may keep the prosecution’s fire experts from testifying that they believe the fire was intentionally set.

Keene Sentinel file photo

David B. McLeod, 55, of Sacramento, Calif., was charged in June 2010 with four counts of second-degree murder for the 1989 deaths of newlyweds Carl R. and Lori M. Hina, their 4-month-old daughter Lillian, and Carl’s 12-year-old daughter Sara Jean.

Prosecutors say McLeod started the fire that killed the Hinas and they plan to bring in fire science experts to testify that the fire was caused by arson.

But attorneys for McLeod argue that since the experts based their findings on the statements of a woman who died more than six years ago, McLeod’s constitutional rights would be violated because she couldn’t be questioned in court. Continue reading