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Judge delays Brewer man’s sentence after paralyzed victim objects to plea deal

Gabor Degre | BDN
Gabor Degre | BDN
Gordon Cameron, 26, looks towards his attorney Terence Harrigan during his appearance at the Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor on Monday, June 4, 2012.
By Judy Harrison, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — The victim on Monday tearfully begged the judge to sentence Gordon Cameron to spend more time behind bars for causing the crash that paralyzed her than the two years called for in his plea agreement.

“Please make an example out of him with the sentencing,” said the 19-year-old woman, who uses a wheelchair. “Each day is punishing enough for me. I don’t need to be reminded of what happened.

“This is my reality and I’m living it,” she concluded. “So, please, all that I am asking is for you to give him a stiffer sentence. He’s well past his due.”

Cameron, 26, of Brewer pleaded guilty Monday at the Penobscot Judicial Center to aggravated assault and criminal operating under the influence of intoxicants in connection with the March 30, 2011, crash in Brewer.

Superior Court Justice William Anderson accepted Cameron’s guilty pleas but held off sentencing him.

“I want more time to consider the plea agreement,” the judge said. “What is noteworthy here are the horrible injuries that can’t be made up for with a criminal sentence.”

The judge said he would schedule the sentence for late this week or next week. It had not been scheduled when court closed at 4 p.m. Monday.

The plea agreement worked out between Michael P. Roberts, deputy district attorney for Penobscot County, and defense attorney Terence Harrigan of Bangor called for Cameron to be sentenced to five years in prison with all but two years suspended and three years of probation on the assault charge.

The agreement also called for Cameron to serve the mandatory minimum sentence on the felony drunken driving charge of six months, pay the mandatory $2,100 fine and have his driver’s license suspended for six years.

Roberts recommended Monday that the most serious charge that Cameron originally faced — elevated aggravated assault, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison — be dismissed.

Cameron hung his head and wept for much of the hearing. He asked Harrigan to read his statement to the judge and apology to his victim and her family because he was too emotional to speak the words himself.

“I never intended to harm [her],” the attorney read. “I plead with [her] and her family someday to accept my apology.

“I wouldn’t be here today if I had the courage to kill myself,” Harrigan continued reading. “Please forgive me for being too much of a coward to be there for you after the accident.”

Cameron did not visit the teenager during the three months she was hospitalized after the accident. He was not charged until eight months after the crash while accident reconstructionists completed their reports, Roberts said, so he was not on bail and prevented from contacting her.

The crash occurred near the junction of North Main Street and Gettysburg Avenue around 12:20 a.m. March 30, 2011, Roberts told Anderson. Cameron, who had been drinking, was driving his Chevrolet Cavalier and arguing with the victim.

Cameron told police that he threatened to drive the car into a pole, the prosecutor said. He swerved the car toward a pole to scare her but apparently lost control and struck a pole farther north on the same side of the road at a speed of nearly 70 mph, Roberts said.

A blood test showed that Cameron’s blood-alcohol level was 0.09 an hour and 15 minutes after the accident, the prosecutor said Monday. The legal limit is 0.08 percent.

If the judge were to reject the plea agreement, Cameron could withdraw his guilty pleas and go to trial or begin negotiating a new plea agreement with the prosecutor.

Cameron faced up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $20,000 on the aggravated assault charge. He has no criminal record except for a misdemeanor theft conviction in 2005 and a conviction for violating his bail in the crash case by possessing marijuana and alcohol. He served an 11-day jail sentence earlier this year for the violation, according to Roberts.

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