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Document: Former Firefighter Admitted Setting About 17 Fires

October 15, 1988

LANCASTER, N.H. (AP) _ In a court filing, prosecutors say a 23-year-old former firefighter admitted setting about 17 of the more than 20 arson fires that have terrorized the town of Jefferson and nearby areas for six months.

Prosecutors made the claim in an effort to persuade Coos County Superior Court Judge Harold Perkins II on Friday to detain Lance Lalumiere in jail without bail. Lalumiere is being held in lieu of $50,000 cash bail.

Perkins continued Lalumiere’s bail hearing until Tuesday. He also delayed action on a similar request by prosecutors to revoke $50,000 cash bail for Lawrence Coulter Jr., 19, of Jefferson, another volunteer firefighter who also is charged in the case.

Though prosecutors said Lalumiere admitted setting the fires, they said they don’t want to release the statements or other evidence until after the evidence is presented to a grand jury.

That sparked objections by Lalumiere’s lawyer, Philip Waystack, who demanded copies of the documents. Waystack told Perkins it is unfair for the state to cite the evidence but refuse to disclose it.

″The state cannot have it both ways,″ he said. ″It can’t make use of alleged evidence to detain this man, then hold that evidence.″

″We all must keep in focus (that) Mr. Lalumiere has certain constitutional protections. One of them is the presumption of innocence,″ he added.

County Attorney Pierre Morin and Assistant Attorney General Andrew Serell argued in their motion that Lalumiere should be detained due to ″the nature and number of these offenses.″ They also argued that the dishwasher ″poses a serious risk to the safety of the community.″

On Wednesday, state police charged Lalumiere, of Jefferson, with setting one fire and said they plan to seek indictments charging him with 15 others.

The motion by Morin and Serell said that in addition to the Aug. 23 fire Lalumiere is formally charged with setting, ″defendant has given statements admitting to committing some 16 other acts of arson in the Jefferson, N.H., area.″

Jefferson, population 850, has had 21 suspicious fires since May. Nearby towns have had at least three others, including one Oct. 3 in Dalton for which Coulter was charged Thursday.

Perkins scheduled hearings Monday for each defendant on the defense requests for evidence.

Neither man entered a plea at his arraignment, which is customary in felony arraignments in district courts.

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