June 21, 2018
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Owls Head teen charged in June crash that killed girl, 17

Photo courtesy of the Sonksen family
Photo courtesy of the Sonksen family
Aleisha Sonksen
By Stephen Betts, BDN Staff

ROCKLAND, Maine — An 18-year-old Owls Head man has been charged with manslaughter in connection with a June car crash that claimed the life of a 17-year-old girl who was recalled by friends and neighbors as a “phenomenal kid.”

Evan A. Altiero was the driver of a 1998 BMW Z3 that crashed on Route 73 in South Thomaston shortly before midnight on June 20, 2011. The sports car went off the road and rolled several times, according to state police.

Aleisha Sonksen, 17, of Owls Head, a passenger in the car, died from her injuries. Sonksen had completed her junior year at Camden HIlls Regional High School earlier that month.

Altiero was taken to Pen Bay Medical Center in Rockport the night of the accident and treated for minor injuries.

The manslaughter charge alleges that Altiero acted recklessly or with criminal negligence, causing Sonksen’s death.

Altiero made his initial court appearance Feb. 15 in 6th District Court in Rockland on the juvenile charge of manslaughter, according to court records obtained Wednesday.

Because Altiero was a juvenile when the fatal crash occurred, he is being charged under the juvenile justice system. Manslaughter is a Class A crime, punishable in adult court by up to 30 years in prison.

District Attorney Geoffrey Rushlau said Wednesday that the maximum sentence Altiero could face if he is found to have committed the offense is to be sentenced to a juvenile detention facility for an indeterminate time until he reaches 21 years of age. The region’s chief prosecutor, however, said the sentence could be far less than the maximum.

Rushlau said alcohol was not a factor in the crash, but expects that evidence of speed will be presented at the trial. Maine State Police also said at the time of the crash that speed played a role. He said he expects considerable expert testimony concerning the crash to be heard during the trial when it is held.

The next hearing on the matter is scheduled for April 11. Rushlau said that hearing likely will only be a conference to discuss the status of the case.

Altiero is being represented by Philip Cohen of Waldoboro.

Altiero was 17 when the crash occurred and turned 18 less than six months later. Juvenile names become public after their initial appearance on charges of this magnitude, Rushlau said.

Sonksen was the daughter of Joyce Burnham of Owls Head and Marlowe Sonksen of Camden. She transferred before her junior year to Camden Hills from Rockland District High School. She was enrolled in gifted and talented programs and was active on the ski team.

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