Concord — March 11, 2010 — Erica Blizzard’s blood-alcohol level was 0.13 percent three hours after she crashed her boat on Lake Winnipesaukee in 2008, killing one friend and injuring another, according to a state toxicologist.
Ninety minutes later, her level had dropped to 0.11 percent, still above the legal limit of 0.08 percent, toxicologist Darby VanAmburg testified at Blizzard’s trial yesterday.
Blizzard, 36, of Laconia, is charged with two counts of negligent homicide for the death of Stephanie Beaudoin and with aggravated driving while intoxicated for serious injuries suffered by her other passenger, Nicole Shinopulos.
Two of those charges allege Blizzard was intoxicated when she rammed her boat into Diamond Island at 2:30 a.m. June 15, 2008. VanAmburg was the last witness to testify yesterday, and it was the first time the state has said publicly what Blizzard’s blood-alcohol level was.
The jury of eight men and five women has been hearing evidence in Belknap County Superior Court since Monday and is expected to hear from Shinopulos today and Blizzard tomorrow. Closing arguments are scheduled for Monday.
For much of yesterday, defense attorney James Moir of Concord continued his aggressive cross-examination of Marine Patrol Lt. Timothy Dunleavy, the state expert who determined Blizzard was going at least 33 mph when she crashed.
The defense learned for the first time yesterday that the bouncer working the restaurant and bar Blizzard and her friends last visited before the crash didn’t recall seeing anyone leave the establishment drunk.
And Moir said he has a witness who believes the empty beer cans floating near Blizzard’s crashed boat may not have been Blizzard’s, but rather trash from another boat. However, a state witness said yesterday afternoon, investigators found cans of the same kind of beer in the boat’s cabin.
Alcohol was Moir’s focus during his cross-examination of Dunleavy. Dunleavy revealed yesterday that he interviewed the off-duty police officer working the door at the Wolfetrap Restaurant the night of the crash but never reported it because the bouncer didn’t see anyone who was impaired.
Moir, who said after court that the bouncer has not returned his calls for an interview, was visibly surprised by Dunleavy’s testimony.
“Why didn’t you share that with us?” Moir asked. “Didn’t you think it was important?”
No, Dunleavy said, calling it “an oversight.”
Several state witnesses, Dunleavy included, have said they saw two or three empty beer cans floating near Blizzard’s crashed boat. Yesterday, Moir asked Dunleavy why he never interviewed Diamond Island resident Nancy Stone about those cans.
When Stone read about the beer cans in prior news accounts of the crash, she called Moir and said those cans were likely trash she had collected from the shoreline and put in her dinghy to throw away later. She picks up litter often, she told Moir.
Dunleavy said he didn’t follow up with Stone because he instead asked her husband, Dr. Thomas Rock, whether the empties were in their dinghy when they took it out to assist Blizzard and her friends. In addition, Marine Patrol officers found Bud Light cans, as well as two bottles of vodka, one unopened, in the cabin of the boat.
“(Rock) said he wasn’t sure but (the cans) might have been in the boat,” Dunleavy said. “He confirmed that (Stone) does pick up litter.”
Continuing to challenge the state’s alcohol evidence, Moir asked Dunleavy about his report to a state toxicologist that Blizzard had consumed 4½ alcohol drinks between 8 p.m. and 2:30 a.m. the night of the crash. Blizzard told Dunleavy during their interview that she had had only 3½ mixed drinks and recalled the ingredients in detail.
The state used the drink tally, in part, to calculate Blizzard’s blood-alcohol level, Moir said. Why not give the state both numbers, Blizzard’s and Dunleavy’s, Moir asked.
Dunleavy said he believed his number was better, based on witness statements and the bar tab.
Yesterday’s witnesses also included Dr. Jennie Duval, the state medical examiner who performed Beaudoin’s autopsy. Duval said Beaudoin died from blunt trauma to her head, neck and chest, likely from striking something in the boat when it crashed.
If convicted of all charges, Blizzard could face 7½ to 15 years in prison.