Driver in 2012 negligent homicide crash seeks new trial

Staff photo by Dean Shalhoup James Bazinet, convicted two years ago of negligent homicide in the crash that killed his passenger, appeared in court Monday for a hearing in connection with his case.

NASHUA – James Bazinet, the former Worcester, Massachusetts man sentenced in May 2016 to a term of five to 10 years in State Prison in the 2012 drunk-driving crash in Nashua that killed his fiancee, was back in court this week with a new attorney by his side – and apparently with the intent to seek a new trial.

A Superior Court jury in March 2016 found Bazinet, now 53, guilty of negligent homicide, a felony charge that accused him of driving “recklessly” and speeding while his blood alcohol content was .267, and ultimately crashing his fiancee’s car into trees and a rock wall across from 5 Searles Road.

Killed in the crash was Sheryl Laitinen, then 55, Bazinet’s fiancee and passenger. Bazinet also suffered multiple life-threatening injuries, but later recovered, although he has referred in the past to suffering from memory loss and other lingering medical issues.

Concord-based attorney Ted Lothstein appeared with Bazinet during the most recent hearing before Superior Court Judge Jacalyn Colburn, a brief proceeding during which Lothstein asked for, and was granted, a continuance of the hearing to give him time to review the sizable files generated during the course of the case.

Colburn scheduled the hearing for 1:30 p.m. Feb. 4 in the Nashua court.

According to Bazinet’s case file, he filed a motion for a new trial in the fall, several months after the New Hampshire Supreme Court rejected his appeal of the conviction.

The files indicate Bazinet, in seeking the new trial, is “alleging, among other things, ineffective assistance of counsel,” Assistant County Attorney Nicole Thorspecken wrote in the state’s objection to Bazinet’s new-trial motion.

In requesting the hearing be continued, Lothstein, Bazinet’s new lawyer, said he faces “a large project … there was a lot of litigation in this case,” referring to getting up to speed on the case.

Contacted this week, Lothstein said he isn’t able to comment on the case at this time.

Meanwhile, according to Bazinet’s case file, he filed a motion in early October for “return of property,” specifically, the ring he had given Laitinen upon their engagement.

The ring, Bazinet wrote in his motion, is of “great sentimental value,” and described it as “a promise to marry … it was not a gift.”

Thorspecken objected to the motion on two fronts: That the ring is among items still being held as evidence, and when it is released from evidence, it will go to Laitinen’s next of kin.

Ultimately, Colburn denied Bazinet’s motion.

Dean Shalhoup can be reached at 594-1256, dshalhoup@nashuatelegraph.com, or @Telegraph_DeanS.