MACHIAS, Maine — Christopher B. Grant of Calais pleaded guilty Friday to a charge of vehicular manslaughter in the death of Gordon Lister in a June 2006 collision on Route 9 in Baileyville.
Grant — dazed from a toxic stew of legal and illegal prescription drugs — slammed his pickup truck head-on into Lister’s motorcycle, throwing Lister over a guardrail and killing him.
Grant pleaded guilty to the vehicular manslaughter charge and was sentenced in Washington County Superior Court on Friday to 18 years in jail, with all but eight years suspended.
Justice Kevin M. Cuddy also sentenced Grant to five years each on two other counts, aggravated assault and reckless conduct, to be served concurrently with the manslaughter sentence and a separate six-year aggravated trafficking sentence Grant is now serving at the Maine State Prison.
As part of the plea agreement, charges of aggravated criminal OUI and reckless conduct were dismissed.
During the hearing, Grant told Cuddy, “I’m sorry for the family,” although he did not look at Grant’s widow and son in the front row of the courtroom.
In a bit of tragic irony, Patricia and Gordon Lister of Dufferin, New Brunswick, were married on Nov. 1, 1969, the day before Christopher Grant was born in Calais. Almost 37 years later, Grant would cause Gordon Lister’s death.
Michael Povich, district attorney for Washington and Hancock counties, told the court that about 5 p.m. June 18, 2006, Grant was driving west on Route 9, just before the intersection with U.S. Route 1 in Baileyville. Lister was headed east, followed by John and Sadie Smith.
According to witnesses, Grant’s truck drifted into the eastbound lane, overcorrected back into the westbound lane, overcorrected again into the eastbound lane, and collided head-on with Lister’s motorcycle, Povich said.
Grant’s truck then struck the Smiths’ truck, injuring them as well. The reckless conduct charges against Grant stemmed from the collision with the Smiths.
Povich said blood tests taken from Grant after the crash indicated he had a deadly cocktail of drugs in his system, including methadone, Valium, Adderan, which is a narcotic, and Klonopin and Soma, both muscle relaxants.
All had been prescribed to Grant except the Valium and the methadone.
While handing down the sentence, Cuddy said, “The aggravating factors scream out while the mitigating factors are very limited.”
Cuddy also included four years of probation after Grant’s incarceration.
“This will probably give the people of Washington County some comfort that Mr. Grant is being watched and monitored,” Cuddy said.
Although she declined to speak during the hearing, Lister’s widow, Patricia, held a statement letter in her hand that explained the dreams her husband missed: He didn’t get to visit Italy or go on a tour of the pubs of Ireland. He won’t be able to teach his grandchildren to fish or drive or watch them at dance recitals, basketball and soccer games. He will no longer bake his specialty bread.
After the hearing, Patricia Lister said she felt a great sense of relief at Grant’s sentence.
“No amount of time would be enough,’’ she said, “but at least he is out of harm’s way to other people.’’
Grant was agitated and upset just before the 9 a.m. hearing, complaining loudly that he had not been given his medication. The hearing started nearly two hours late, after jail officials brought Grant his medication, which his attorney said was for diabetes.