Thursday, October 29, 2015

2nd Chances

 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.


Anonymous said...

There are two profound public services in this blog post:
1) The victim impact statement, which makes very real what it's like to live in the aftermath of witnessing one of these atrocities;
2) The totaling up of the enormous cumulative cost of a 24D disposition, as well as the uncalculated increase in the insurance rate.

There's a lot of discussion about just how much deterrence actually works to curb this behavior. At least, this post makes it possible.

We need to overturn the law of Massachusetts evidence that makes the fact of a defendant's refusal of a breath test inadmissible at trial here in the Commonwealth. We stand alone now with perhaps only one other state in the Union on this. It will require a state constitutional amendment, and some angry, grieving relative of a deceased victim of one of these drivers is going to raise hell about this some day to bring it about.

The multiple offenders know to refuse, especially after their criminal defense attorney sets them straight the first time. They're out there.

Rich Morse

Larry Kelley said...

Yes they are.

And these days they stand out like a neon sign as soon as I see they refused the breath test.

My only fear this coming Halloween weekend when I'm out cruising the usual suspect neighborhoods adjoining UMass is running across one of them.

Or to be more precise, one of them running into me. Head on.

Anonymous said...

$295 for a cat?? That's BULLSHIT. How do you put a price like that on a living animal who was a part of a family?!

Anonymous said...

Judges, have turned these drunk driving cases into revenue for the state, in the process leaving the victims out in the cold.

Anonymous said...

Ez. Like this: $295 for the cat.

Anonymous said...

The only consequence of drunk driving is a few grand in fees and high insurance (if you even buy it)?

Shouldn't the fine be at least 1000x the cost of drinking that night. It can easily cost $100 to drink out, so the fine should be at least $100,000. Jail time for the first offense should be 10 years and you should never ever get your right to drive back. That is what laws that discourage drunk driving should look like.

Now it makes sense why there is so much drunk driving, there is little to no consequence. There is so much drunk driving because the legislature does not think it is really worth punishing someone who does it.

At least it makes sense now, we designed the system to allow drunk driving, but retain the right to pretend that we care because we slap them on their wrist and hand their keys right back to them.

What a joke of government oversight. Even the greedy/lazy folks in government could make more money off these folks, if they were smart enough or cared.

Anonymous said...

Ailton was an amazing artist at ARHS. Many people in the community pitched in funds towards his art education, after he graduated from ARHS in 2012ish.
I hope he can regain his balance.

keithw said...

A near 90 mph car crash that ejects the passenger, kills a cat and destroys property? He must be a kinetic artist.

Anonymous said...

What was the intent of the McGowan's impact statement? Were they asking for harsher punishment?

Anonymous said...

You mean 50mph at Impact right? Look at the damage to the car...lucky to be alive. How do you know he refused a breath test? He was at a hospital....

Anonymous said...

Anything on what is on fire North of Town?

Anonymous said...

He's a great kid who screwed up badly. Those in the community who know him believe in him and in his future.

Dr. Ed said...

I hate to say this, but if a car hits one of those rocks at 80-90 MPH, it's going airborne and continuing downrange. That potentially could be worse -- a lot worse.

But Larry, this accident wasn't caused by Alcohol -- it was caused by him going way too fast.

Larry Kelley said...

(Too much) Alcohol makes you do stupid things, like driving way too fast.

Anonymous said...

$100,000? 10 Years? Why not just bring back Prohibition? Nobody likes to admit it, but that was the idea of Progressives. I love that word. It falsely implies that their ideas are better, and they are smarter than anyone else.

Anonymous said...

Artists hold no immunity to being asses.

Anonymous said...

He couldn't possibly have done wrong, He just made a "mistake." Poor fellow. Ted Kennedy made a similar mistake. Killed a girl. But we call him the Lion of the Senate. But I digress.

Anonymous said...

In response to Anon 11:22 pm, victim impact statements are routinely sought by the Court in every case in which someone might be adversely affected by a person's criminal conduct. They are not intended as an opportunity for a victim to vent his or her anger (and I've actually seen a judge or two talk back to a victim who was simply spewing verbal venom at a defendant). They are intended, by providing information, to assist the judge in sentencing to understand the experience of the people at the receiving end. I used to ask victims to try to assemble an inventory of all the big and small ways they had been affected by the crime (missing work, losing sleep, no longer feeling safe in their own home or in their workplace).

There's a wide variety of individual responses to crime. Some people want to express their forgiveness and hope that will have an impact. Some are eager to put the incident behind them (and wish to say very little), and some are truly scarred for life. Many people feel much better after giving these statements. As a prosecutor, I had great trouble getting police officers to give these statements in court when they were injured by someone's violent conduct. We have some judges, especially in Superior Court, who are absolutely tremendous in their sensitivity to victims in court. The best of all for me was Judge Constance Sweeney in Springfield. I wish those who are particularly cynical about judges could see our best justices in action.

Rich Morse

Anonymous said...

(Refer to Ted Kennedy" above.)

Anonymous said...

Hey! He was the Lion Of The Senate. And a Dem. Can't critcise Him!

Anonymous said...

Larry, what do you know about the bad crash on Northeast St early this a.m., the one that required the Jaws of Life & airlifting of people from the crashed car. I hope they will all be okay. Also, I have been wondering whether this crash happened anywhere near where the UMass was killed walking along the road (whatever happened to the case vs. that driver, btw?)