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Judge rejects 2-year plea deal in crash that left teenager paralyzed

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 — A Superior Court justice Tuesday rejected a plea agreement that would have put a Brewer man behind bars for two years for causing the car accident that left a teenager paralyzed.

Gordon Cameron, 26, is due back before Justice William Anderson in August to determine whether he will go to trial or a new plea agreement can be worked out.

Cameron, 26, of Brewer pleaded guilty on June 4 at the Penobscot Judicial Center to aggravated assault and criminal operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicants in connection with the March 30, 2011, crash in Brewer.

Anderson accepted Cameron’s guilty pleas but held off sentencing him until Tuesday, when he rejected the deal. The agreement worked out between Michael 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.

Anderson said Tuesday that two years was not a severe enough sentence based on the permanent injuries suffered by the victim.

“The fact that the victim opposes this sentence is something to consider,” Anderson said. “But, I doubt any sentence that could be imposed would satisfy the victim and her family.”

It is the practice of the Bangor Daily News not to identify the victims of crimes.

On June 4, the victim, now 19, tearfully begged the judge to sentence Cameron to spend more time behind bars for causing the crash that paralyzed her from the chest down.

“Please make an example out of him with the sentencing,” said the 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.”

The victim and her family attended Tuesday’s brief hearing but did not address the court nor speak to the media.

The crash occurred near the junction of North Main Street and Gettysburg Avenue around 12:20 a.m. March 30, 2011, Roberts told Anderson on June 4. 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 more than 60 mph, Roberts said earlier this month.

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

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 June 4 that the most serious charge that Cameron originally faced — elevated aggravated assault, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison — be dismissed.

Anderson did not object Tuesday to that part of the agreement.

Cameron remains free on bail.

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