Prosecutor: Sucker-punch to the face led to Friday night ‘negligent homicide’ of man outside shelter

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Daniel Samaria appears in Hillsborough County Court Superior Court North for arraignment on a negligent homicide charge. Photo/Jeffrey Hastings, frameofmindphoto.com

MANCHESTER, NH — A sucker punch to the face resulted in Robert Lachance, 57, falling to the ground Friday night, striking his head on the pavement which ultimately resulted in his death, according to a prosecutor.

Lachance was in the parking lot outside Families in Transition’ (FIT) family shelter, 177 Lake Ave., Friday night, sorting through milk crates and tossing them into a garbage bin when he had a verbal argument with Daniel Samaria, 44.

Assistant Hillsborough County Attorney David Jenkins told Hillsborough County Superior Court North Judge Amy Messer, during Samaria’s arraignment on charges of negligent homicide and first-degree assault, that detectives interviewed witnesses and reviewed video recorded on FIT surveillance cameras at the time of the 9:19 p.m. incident.

The video records Samaria, 44, coming up behind Lachance and landing a sucker punch to his face, Jenkins said. 

Lachance, he said, stumbled backward and hit his head on the pavement of Spruce Street. “That’s what led to his death,” he said.

Referring to Lachance only as “RL,” Jenkins said he suffered a brain bleed and had a bump on his forehead and a black eye.

Samaria, he said, never stopped to check on Lachance.  “He just walked away,” said Jenkins, who called that action “cold” and “calculated.”

About 1½ minutes later, a passing motorist stopped, checked on Lachance and called 911.  He was taken to the Elliot Hospital where he was pronounced dead the following day, Saturday, Sept. 14.

Jenkins said Samaria admitted punching Lachance two to three times in the face.

Daniel Samaria, 44, allegedly sucker-punched Robert Lachance outside the FIT family shelter on Lake Avenue Friday night, which the prosecutor says led to Lachance’s death from a brain bleed sustained in the subsequent fall to the ground. Photo/Jeffrey Hastings, frameofmindphoto.com

He asked the judge to not set bail but instead hold Samaria in preventative detention.  He called Samaria dangerous and said the Manchester man couldn’t control himself, given his intoxicated state at the time of the assault.

Samaria, he said, has a criminal history dating back to 1995 when he was arrested for disorderly conduct.  Four times – in 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2005 – he was convicted of simple assault.   

New Hampshire Public Defender William J. Schultz asked the judge to release Samaria on personal recognizance bail with conditions, including that he does not drink or use non-prescription drugs.  He said his client was willing to abide by a curfew and has already signed a waiver of extradition.

He said Samaria lives in Manchester, has family here and cares for a 6-year-old son.

Schultz said none of Samaria’s convictions are felonies, rather they are misdemeanors or violations and the last assault conviction was 14 years ago.

He requested an evidentiary hearing noting that he has not seen the video, that he has no information concerning the age of any of Lachance’s injuries and there is no indication in the affidavit as to his clients’ level of intoxication. 

The judge ordered Samaria to be preventatively detained, citing his prior convictions for simple assault and the violence of the current offense.

She granted Schultz’s request for an evidentiary hearing, the date of which is yet to be scheduled.

Jenkins, after the hearing, said that while court documents list Samaria’s address as the FIT family shelter on Lake Avenue, that Samaria was living out of his car outside the shelter. He said he did not know if his 6-year-old son lived in the car with him.