706 South East Street 10:00 PM (9/1/14)
706 South East Street today: "Barricaded in our homes"
As a matter of equal parts expediency for the Commonwealth and fairness for a 1st time offender our state in its infinite wisdom came up with the standard 24D disposition for the all too numerous Operating Under the Influence cases that occur in Massachusetts.
Yes everybody -- except perhaps murderers and pedophiles -- deserves a second chance. Let the first among us who has never driven after having had a few sips too many cast the first beer bottle.
Ailton Correia (left) with Attorney Fred Chamberland
In Eastern Hampshire District Court today after about 20 minutes of testimony that included a compelling witness impact statement Judge Payne looked at at Ailton Correia and said, "I am going to agree with this plea deal as I hope this incident was only a bump in the road -- no pun intended."
But he then went on to add 50 hours of community service, attendance at "Brains At Risk" program and alcohol screens for the duration of his one year probation.
The 24D all by itself costs $2,587.76
Standard 24D disposition fees/fines
Although Judge Payne did waive the first four months of $65 probation payments so Mr. Correia could pay restitution of $295.40 for a neighborhood cat that was killed by flying debris.
As is standard procedure the Commonwealth presented the facts to Judge Payne first, which would have been used against Correia had the case gone to trial.
ADA Bob Opsitnik said the car -- a 1998 gray Honda civic -- was traveling south on South East street at a very high rate of speed, lost control over the hill, crashed into a tree and ended up against the front door of a brick house.
A young woman (his cousin) was ejected from the vehicle and ended up screaming on the front lawn. The driver (Correia) and his passenger were both transported to Baystate Medical Center. He suffered a broken leg.
An Amherst police officer noticed the driver had bloodshot glassy eyes and the odor of stale alcohol.
Since blood was drawn at the hospital during the course of Correia's treatment, the state requested a BAC test which converted to between .87 and .09 Blood Alcohol Concentration (legal limit is .08).
Defense Attorney Fred Chamberland told Judge Payne his client is a student at Greenfield Community College who worked two jobs up until the time of the accident. Since he suffered a broken leg he had to give up his job with UPS.
The defense hired two expert witnesses who would have testified that his Blood Alcohol Concentration was between .07 and .08 and the car was traveling at around 50 MPH.
Janet McGowan, after waiting 3.75 hours, addressed Judge Payne
But Janet McGowan told Judge Payne it was more in the 80-90 MPH range as she described the roar of an engine unlike any she has heard before on her busy street. And she brought a poster sized blow up of the mangled vehicle that blocked her front door.
Judge Payne examining mangled car photo
The Judge said, "That looks like more than 50 MPH" as he perused the picture. He went on to say he lives on a somewhat busy street and he knows the sounds cars make. "You know the difference between 50-60 MPH and 80-90 MPH ... It's an extraordinary sound. You can't make that up."
Looking directly at Correia Judge Payne told him he was, "Extraordinarily lucky. You could have killed a person instead of a cat."
When adding the extra 50 extra hours of community service Judge Payne said he wanted it to be dealing with people who have suffered traumatic brain injury, maybe Wounded Warriors for instance. That way he can see the consequences of a serious accident.
Finally Judge Payne suggested Correia meet with Janet McGowan and her husband to apologize for the disruption he brought to their lives that night.
A disruption that today, over a year later, still lingers.