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New Hampshire man pleads guilty in fatal shooting in Berwick

BIDDEFORD – A New Hampshire man pleaded guilty Friday to killing a man in Berwick last year following an argument over missing clothing.

Daniel Lafrenier Courtesy of York County Jail

Daniel Lafrenier, 32, appeared before a judge in York County Superior Court in Biddeford to plead guilty to manslaughter and illegal possession of a firearm, admitting he shot and killed 37-year-old Mark Forest last January.j Hours after Forest and his wife argued with Lafrenier's mother at a home they shared on Katabel Lane.

Prosecutors have agreed to drop the murder charge against Lafrenier if he pleads guilty to the lesser charge. However, the deal does not include a prison sentence. Lafrenier faces up to 30 years in prison for manslaughter and five years for weapons possession. Sentencing is scheduled for August 1.

“I hope when we come back on August 1, he gets the maximum sentence,” said Kim Gates, Forest's sister, after the hearing. “He took a life.”

Lafrenier, wearing an orange prison sweatshirt and dark glasses, spoke only to answer questions from Judge James Martemucci.

After the hearing, his father, William Lafrenier, said he was very emotional to see his son in court. He was surrounded by other family members in the courtroom, including one who shouted “I love you” as Daniel Lafrenier was led out of the courtroom.

“I'm glad he pleaded guilty because it was a terrible incident,” said William Lafrenier. “I want him to do the right thing.”

THE SHOOT

Lisa Bogue, assistant attorney general, said Berwick police were called to the home on Katabel Lane on the morning of Jan. 12, 2023, by a 911 caller who reported there was a person there with a self-inflicted gunshot wound. When officers arrived, they found Forest on a couch, critically injured with a gunshot wound to the head.

Forest was taken to Wentworth-Douglass Hospital in Dover, New Hampshire, where he was pronounced dead.

During the investigation, police learned that Lafrenier had gone to the house that morning after his mother, Luann Lafrenier, called him and said she had argued with Forest and his wife over clothing she believed the couple had taken, Bogue said. Luann Lafrenier, who has since died, told her son that Forest had threatened her, prosecutors said.

According to an affidavit from Maine State Police Detective Michael Chavez, Daniel Lafrenier pointed a gun at Forest's head when he entered the home with another man and began arguing with Forest and others. The affidavit states Forest either tried to push the gun away or grab it.

After the shooting, Daniel Lafrenier apologized to his mother and told her the gun “went off,” Chavez wrote. Luann Lafrenier later told police she heard a bang and then heard another witness scream, “There's blood everywhere!”

Lafrenier left the building before police arrived.

He was arrested the following day after his cousin called York police to report that he had tried to break into her home. The cousin was aware that Lafrenier was a suspect in a shooting, as were the police officers who arrived in response to her call, Bogue said. After taking him into custody, police found a gun in his backpack that had DNA from Forest and Lafrenier on it, prosecutors said.

“THE MOST LOVEABLE PERSON”

Several of Forest's family members, including his sister and one of his daughters, sat in the front row Friday, wiping tears from their eyes and hugging each other as Lafrenier told the judge he was pleading guilty.

Gates said her brother was “amazing” – the kind of father who was playful and rushed home from work to be with his six children.

“They will be fatherless for the rest of their lives,” she said. “He took care of his children and tried to give them everything they wanted in life.”

Forest was “the most loving person you could ever meet,” his sister said. He always showed people how much he loved them and people felt like they could talk to him about anything, she said.

His family has been struggling since his death, Gates said. The daughter, who attended the hearing on Friday, was “torn apart” by the loss of her father, to whom she was particularly close, Gates said.

Forest grew up in Rochester, New Hampshire, the son of a police officer. He and his wife were living temporarily at the Berwick home until they found somewhere else to live, Gates said.

Forest worked in the electrical field for many years and loved carpentry, landscaping, cooking, riding motorcycles and working on custom LED lighting, according to his obituary. His family described him as a hardworking and protective person who had a way with words and was known for “making something out of nothing.”

“Mark cared for his family with great passion. Most of all, he spent quality time with his children and created special memories with each of them,” his family wrote in his obituary.

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