Woman gets prison in fatal crash

Former Rindge woman pleaded guilty to manslaughter charges in 2013 wreck that killed her fiance

  • Nichole Oates was arraigned at the 8th Circuit Court in Keene on Monday on felony-level negligent homicide and aggravated DWI charges out of Jaffrey following a fatal car crash Friday evening on Fitzwilliam Road in Jaffrey.<br/><br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • A black 2012 Ford F-150 sustained extensive damage in a single-car crash on Fitzwilliam Road in which 34-year-old Daniel Peard of Jaffrey was killed.<br/><br/>Photo courtesy of Jaffrey Police Department

KEENE — A former Rindge resident was sentenced to two and a half to five years in prison on Tuesday, after pleading guilty to negligent manslaughter charges resulting from a crash last year which resulted in the death of her fiance.

Nichole Oates, 35, of Troy, a former Rindge resident, was charged with negligent homicide after a Jan. 5, 2013, crash. According to the facts of the case submitted by Oates’ defense on file with the Cheshire County Superior Court, Oates admitted that she had been drinking at Ed’s Crossroads in Fitzwilliam, before attempting to drive home with her fiance, Daniel Peard, 34, of Jaffrey, sitting in the passenger’s seat.

According to court documents, Oates attempted to “drift,” or slide the 2012 Ford F-150 Raptor she was driving sideways around a corner on Fitzwilliam Road in Jaffrey, at Peard’s request. She then lost control of the truck, traveled down an embankment and crashed into a large boulder and a tree.

Peard, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was ejected during the crash and died from the injuries he sustained. Oates left the scene of the accident to seek help at a nearby home.

Peard graduated from Conant High School and was a lifelong Jaffrey resident. He was a diesel mechanic and maintained the fleet of trucks at his family’s two Jaffrey businesses, Red’s of Jaffrey on River Street and Monadnock Disposal Service on Old Sharon Road.

Oates was indicted in February on charges of negligent homicide and aggravated driving while intoxicated for causing Peard’s death.

Oates entered a guilty plea to negligent homicide in exchange for a capped plea of four to eight years in prison. Because she submitted to a plea deal, Oates has waived her right to an appeals process, according to her public defender, Kim Kossick in an interview Wednesday. Kossick said that she argued for a lighter sentence for Oates — a single year in a county jail, which is the low end of time served in similar cases. In part, said Kossick, this is because the women’s prison is not as well equipped as the men’s and is substandard in comparison, said Kossick, citing fewer education opportunities and other programs.

“Being incarcerated in the women’s prison is a harsher punishment than being incarcerated for the same amount of time in the men’s prison,” she said.

However, she did not feel that the sentence passed down in this case was unjust, Kossick said. “Obviously it’s more than we asked for,” she said. “But it’s in line with what’s been received in other states in similar cases.”

Among the conditions of Oates sentencing are that she maintain good behavior and attend any counseling or treatment programs as directed by the correctional authority or her probation or parole officer. Once released, her license will be revoked indefinitely. Oates will not be able to reapply for a driver’s license for seven years. If she should reapply at that time, her license will not be reinstated until the division of motor vehicles receives proof that an ignition interlock device has been installed in her vehicle. Oates will be credited two days of confinement.

Negligent homicide is a class A felony and is punishable by up to between seven and a half years to 15 years in prison and $4,000 in fines.

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