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Jaffrey / Rindge

Third DWI charge dropped in fatality

Trial date set for fall in reckless driving case

KEENE — The driver of a fatal car crash on Fitzwilliam Road in Jaffrey in January no longer faces a third count of aggravated DWI, a felony-level charge, in connection with the case.

Nichole Oates, 34, of Rindge was indicted on two counts of negligent homicide, two counts of aggravated DWI and one count of reckless conduct with a deadly weapon in late February, after allegedly crashing a 2012 Ford F-150 Raptor into a large bolder and a tree in the area of 577 Fitzwilliam Rd. on Jan. 5. Oates’ passenger, Daniel Peard, 34, of Jaffrey, died as a result of extensive injuries he sustained in the accident, which occurred shortly before 11 p.m.

A third count of DWI against Oates was dismissed on April 17 in Cheshire County Superior Court because a Grand Jury did not hand up an indictment within 90 days of the charge’s filing, according to court documents.

The charge was one of two initially brought forward by Jaffrey police following Oates arrest in January, when police arrested and charged Oates with aggravated DWI and negligent homicide.

Oates’ N.H. public defender, Kimberly Kossick, said by phone Tuesday that just because a police complaint is bound-over to the Cheshire County Superior Court from a circuit court doesn’t mean a Grand Jury will hand up an indictment.

“Sometimes the complaints, which are written by police, do not always state the crime correctly,” Kossick said, explaining that the dismissed complaint alleges that Oates crashed a Ford F-150, causing serious bodily injury to Peard and his death. “But it needs to be one or the other. You can’t include both [bodily injury and death] in a single complaint.”

Assistant Cheshire County Attorney Kathleen O’Reilly said Tuesday that the state did change the language in the two other aggravated DWI charges that it later brought forward in Superior Court. “The indictments I brought cover the possibilities in this case,” O’Reilly said. “[As] to why I didn’t use that [original] language, I have no comment.”

When asked about the matter Wednesday, Jaffrey Police Chief Bill Oswalt said, “It’s not unusual for the County Attorney’s Office to come up with different wording of charges based on their review of the investigation.”

Oates is accused of putting Peard, her boyfriend, in danger of seriously bodily injury, according to court records, by “drifting” the Ford F-150 she was driving on Fitzwilliam Road. Oates reportedly drove that night with an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more, according to the indictments, and, because of her impairment the state is arguing the vehicle crashed.

Oates’ trial is scheduled for Nov. 22.

Alyssa Dandrea can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 228 or adandrea@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter at @alyssadandrea.

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