Chemist: Boater’s alcohol level likely double legal limit

The Associated Press
Posted Sept. 15, 2008, at 8:10 p.m.

PORTLAND, Maine — A state chemist testified Monday that the blood alcohol content of a boater charged with two counts of manslaughter was likely double the legal limit at the time of the crash. Jurors, meanwhile, were allowed to examine the two boats that collided.

A blood sample taken three hours after the crash indicated Robert LaPointe’s alcohol level was 0.11 percent, but that was low because so much time had elapsed after the crash on the night of Aug. 11, 2007, said Steve Pierce from the Maine State Crime Lab.

At the time of the crash, LaPointe’s alcohol level was likely 0.15 percent, roughly double the 0.08 percent limit for operating a motorized boat in Maine, he said.

LaPointe, 39, of Medway, Mass., is on trial in Cumberland County Superior Court on two counts of manslaughter and aggravated operating under the influence.

LaPointe and his passenger swam to safety after getting thrown from his 32-foot, high-performance boat at the point of impact. Killed were the two occupants of the smaller boat, Terry Raye Trott, 55, of Harrison and Suzanne Groetzinger, 44, of Berwick.

On Monday, jurors left the courtroom to examine the boats, which were outside the courthouse on a street blocked off by police. Jurors were able to walk around the boats, and one of them climbed a small ladder to get a look at the cockpit of LaPointe’s boat.

Trott’s 14-foot boat, which was black with a red hull, was held together with clamps after the impact snapped off the stern and broke away the gunwales. LaPointe’s Sunsation Dominator, which was white, had scuffs on the hull.

Prosecutors contend LaPointe was drunk and operating his powerboat at 45 mph when it ran over the smaller boat on Long Lake in Harrison.

The defense has questioned the accuracy of the blood alcohol tests because LaPointe’s blood sample remained in a warden’s vehicle for more than 30 hours before being delivered to the lab.

Pierce, however, testified that studies have shown alcohol levels do not increase in blood samples in storage if they contain preservatives, as was the case for LaPointe’s sample.

http://bangordailynews.com/2008/09/15/news/midcoast/chemist-boaterrsquos-alcohol-level-likely-double-legal-limit/ printed on August 27, 2014