Conviction upheld in Route 7 fatality

Posted July 24, 2009, at 9:48 p.m.

DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — The Maine Supreme Judicial Court has upheld the manslaughter conviction of a Corinna man whose excessive speed in 2005 caused a fatal accident on Route 7.

In his appeal, Bradley S. Theriault, 30, claimed the evidence presented during his jury-waived trial in July 2008 in Piscataquis County Superior Court was insufficient to both support the court’s finding that excessive speed was used and the finding of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

The court issued a two-page memorandum of decision in the case on June 25 without outlining the reasons for its findings. Justices did not hear oral arguments in Threriault’s appeal, but considered the legal issues submitted in written briefs.

Theriault was sentenced by Justice William Anderson to 10 years in prison with all but three years suspended, and he is currently serving his sentence.

Court testimony during the 2008 trial showed that Theriault was criminally negligent when he passed five vehicles on Route 7 on Aug. 24, 2005, at a high rate of speed and lost control of his vehicle, which subsequently crashed. His passenger, John Sokoloski, 21, of Dexter, was killed in the crash.

The high court found that the testimony of four of the drivers whom Theriault had passed immediately before the accident was consistent. That testimony and the testimony of the state’s expert found that excessive speed was well-supported, according to the ruling.

The speed, as well as the testimony that Theriault passed five vehicles at once on a road that was in bad condition, supported the court’s determination that Theriault failed to be aware of the risk from his conduct and that this failure amounted to a “a gross deviation from the standard of conduct that a reasonable and prudent person would observe in the same situation,” the decision said.

Piscataquis County District Attorney R. Christopher Almy said Friday that he was pleased with the supreme court’s decision. He said the evidence supported the conviction.

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