Hampton Union, February 09, 2007
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
BRENTWOOD (AP) -- A trial date has been set for a woman charged with killing and incinerating a man on her horse-farm in Epping.
Sheila LaBarre, 48, was charged last year with first-degree murder in the death of Kenneth Countie. Jury selection is scheduled to begin on March 10 and opening statements are scheduled for four days later.
Countie had moved from Wilmington, Mass., to LaBarre's farm in March 2005. His family reported him missing March 23.
Officials allege LaBarre killed Countie around March 21 in Epping and then set his body ablaze.
A judge heard arguments last Thursday regarding a defense motion to preserve DNA evidence for independent testing. Attorneys for LaBarre said they want to be able to test any bone and blood evidence found on LaBarre's farm. But prosecutors filed an objection, saying that most samples will be depleted during the testing.
The judge took the arguments under advisement.
After Countie was reported missing last March, police spent more than two weeks searching the property and found blood, bones and other evidence.
"Careful screening for the best samples of DNA is being conducted, as many remains are severely degraded," prosecutors said.
Prosecutors said tests were conducted to determine if poison was present in any of the samples.
Witnesses have told police Countie appeared sick and his skin color was ashen when he was last seen in public.
The late Wilfred LaBarre owned the 115-acre Epping farm inherited by Sheila LaBarre upon his death in December 2000. Laura Melisi said she believes Sheila LaBarre coerced her father into putting her name on everything.
Melisi said Sheila LaBarre often had various men on the farm, both to work and for relationships, even when her father was there. He finally moved to the apartment above his office to get away, she said.
Melisi said Sheila LaBarre kept telling her father she would leave but never did. She said he encouraged her to try for a singing career and gave her substantial amounts of money.
An autopsy was performed when Wilfred LaBarre died. Melisi said the cause of death was listed as a massive heart attack, hypertension, arterial sclerosis and high blood pressure.
Court documents reveal Sheila LaBarre is no stranger to the court system.When Wilfred LaBarre died, he left his estate to Sheila. It included the Epping farm, his medical practice in Hampton, and three houses, two in Somersworth and another in Portsmouth.
In 2002, she challenged the Department of Revenue Administration after petitioning the court to recognize her as a common-law spouse. The DRA said she was not Wilfred's wife and pursued inheritance taxes. Sheila LaBarre dropped the suit after it became clear the state had numerous witnesses to testify that she did not live with LaBarre in the three years before his death. She lived on Winnacunnet Road in Hampton. James Brackett also lived there.
In 1988, she was arrested on charges of allegedly stabbing Brackett in the head with a pair of scissors. Brackett was also arrested on assault charges, but both cases were dropped. Sheila LaBarre successfully petitioned the court to drop the charges.
In 1995, Sheila LaBarre filed assault charges against Wayne Ennis, a man from Jamaica she was married to at the time.