Victims at odds in crash trial

Posted June 15, 2009, at 2:45 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 12:16 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — The state says Jayson Caron of Danforth got drunk during the 2007 Springfield Fair, demanded the keys from his pregnant girlfriend, and then rolled his truck and caused her to be paralyzed and forced to use a wheelchair.

Caron’s attorney simply says the girlfriend, Bobbi Jo Norris of Mattawamkeag, was driving, and Maine State Police did not do enough investigating after the crash to prove differently.

Both attorneys made their opening statements in Caron’s jury trial Monday in Penobscot County Superior Court on charges of operating under the influence of intoxicants, aggravated OUI and reckless conduct.

Caron, 31, and Norris, 19, are no longer a couple. The fetus reportedly was unharmed, but information about when the baby was born was not revealed in court Monday morning.

Greg Campbell, assistant district attorney for Penobscot County, argued that Caron’s drunken actions on Sept. 1, 2007, were very reckless and caused severe damage to Norris, who arrived at the courthouse in a black wheelchair.

“As a result, she’ll never walk again,” he said. “It’s a tragic example of what can happen with high testosterone, alcohol and a high-performance truck.”

Defense attorney F. David Walker IV has a different take on the matter. He says an accident reconstructionist will say state police investigators “didn’t do what they needed to do … [and] that Bobbi Jo Norris was the driver of that truck, not Jayson Caron.”

Both sides say beer was part of the equation.

Caron brought a cooler of beer to the Springfield Fair on Sept. 1, 2007, and was kicked out of the fair’s tractor pull, in which he was to compete, just after 6:30 p.m. because he was too intoxicated to drive, Campbell said.

“He had his keys taken,” he said. “They were given to Bobbi Jo.”

The couple left the fair soon after Caron was disqualified from the tractor pull, with Norris driving, but when she stopped at a nearby store, Caron took the keys from the ignition and said he was going to drive, the district attorney said.

Five or six miles down the road, while on North Road, the truck went into the ditch on the left side, crossed the roadway and rolled, ejecting both the driver and passenger, Campbell said.

The fetus Norris was carrying was not injured in the crash, but Norris suffered spinal cord injuries that made her paraplegic, unable to use her legs.

“Almost two hours after the accident, his blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit,” Campbell said.

The first person to arrive at the scene of the crash said both Norris and Caron were in the roadway, Walker said, adding that the state police who worked at the scene decided not to call in the department’s accident reconstruction specialist.

“Troopers took some measurements … but no effort was made to mark where bodies were,” the defense attorney said.

He told the jury that they would hear stories about Caron that would make them not like his client.

“This trial is not about injuries or whether or not we like Jayson Caron,” Walker said. “This is about whether the state did their job in preserving the evidence.”

Campbell said it is tragic that Norris is paralyzed, but “the real tragedy is the defendant blames Bobbi Jo for the accident.”

Superior Court Justice William Anderson, who estimated the trial would take three days, sequestered the jury and witnesses. Monday’s testimony started with Norris.

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