Venue change sought in Maine boat crash trial

Posted Aug. 02, 2008, at 12 a.m.

PORTLAND, Maine -&nbspA Massachusetts man who is scheduled to stand trial next month for manslaughter and other charges arising from a boat crash last summer on Maine’ s Long Lake that killed two people is seeking to have the trial delayed or moved out of Portland.

Lawyers for Robert LaPointe, 39, of Medway, Mass., and Bridgton say extensive media coverage of the case has created a “climate of hostility” toward the defendant.

The defense also is seeking to exclude the results of a blood alcohol test taken after the crash, saying it was obtained illegally and is not scientifically reliable.

Prosecutors say LaPointe’ s blood alcohol content was 0.11 three hours after his boat slammed into a smaller craft on Aug. 11, 2007, killing its two occupants, Terry Raye Trott, 55, of Naples and Suzanne Groetzinger, 44, of Berwick.

The legal limit for operating a motor vehicle in Maine is 0.08.

In 14 separate motions, defense lawyers sought to block prosecutors from introducing certain statements, photographs and other evidence at the trial that is scheduled to begin Sept. 8 in Cumberland County Superior Court.

In addition to the blood test, evidence in question includes data recovered from LaPointe’ s 32-foot boat, photographs of the bodies of Trott and Groetzinger and statements from witnesses about consumption of alcohol by LaPointe at other times.

Motions by the prosecution ask that jurors be transported to the town of Harrison to view the accident scene and that Crowley exclude any evidence the defense may present about the blood alcohol levels or alcohol consumption of Trott or Groetzinger.

LaPointe, who is free on $50,000 bail, also faces charges of operating under the influence and reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon.

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