Driver pleads not guilty to manslaughter in death of Bangor athlete

By Judy Harrison, BDN Staff
Posted Aug. 28, 2012, at 7:26 p.m.

PORTLAND, Maine — A Pittston man police say was playing a game of “leapfrog” when he crashed the car he was driving, killing a Saint Joseph’s College student from Bangor, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to manslaughter and two other charges at the Cumberland County Courthouse.

Tyler Hall, 20, also pleaded not guilty to reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon and leaving the scene of a personal injury accident, his attorney, Walter McKee of Augusta, said late Tuesday.

Clark Noonan, 20, a former Bangor High School star athlete, was killed April 14 in Standish when the car in which he was a passenger in went off the road not far from the Saint Joseph’s College campus, rolled over several times and became entangled in a chain-link fence, according to a previously published report.

According to Cumberland County investigators, Hall was the driver of one of several cars filled with Saint Joseph’s College students playing a game of “leapfrog” shortly before the fatal crash, which occurred at about 1:30 a.m.

Hall, who was driving the lead car, lost control of the Mazda 626 he was driving on Chadbourne Road, also known as Route 35, near the Saint Joseph’s College campus. Noonan was thrown from the vehicle.

Noonan was a sophomore business major and basketball player for the Monks at the time of his death.

Before going to college, Noonan was a varsity basketball player at Bangor High, where as a senior in 2010 he earned Bangor Daily News third-team All-Maine recognition as well as All-Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference first team, all-defensive and all-academic honors.

In July, the first Noonan-Nation Basketball Tournament raised $3,700, according to a previously published story. The funds were turned over to the Bangor High School Boosters Club in the hope that the tournament will become an annual event to support a Clark Noonan scholarship.

Hall, who is free on $1,000 bail, was indicted Aug. 10 by the Cumberland County grand jury, according to McKee.

Three others indicted earlier this month with Hall in connection with the crash also entered not guilty pleas Tuesday, the attorney said.

Taylor Swart, 19, of Berwick is charged with reckless conduct, a Class C crime. Swart, who was Noonan’s girlfriend, was driving the car that was following Hall the night of the accident, according to McKee.

Jacob Brown, 22, and Zachary Johnson, 21, both of Westbrook were indicted for furnishing a place to allow minors to possess or consume alcohol. The former roommates were not involved in the crash, but are accused of hosting a party attended by Hall, Noonan and others where underage drinking was taking place.

Swart, Brown and Johnson are free on personal recognizance bail, according to a southern Maine newspaper’s website.

McKee said Tuesday that he did not expect the case to be resolved before the end of the year.

If convicted, Hall faces up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000 on the manslaughter charge. On the other charges, Hall and the others charged in connection with the accident, face up to five years in prison and fines of up to $10,000.

http://bangordailynews.com/2012/08/28/news/portland/driver-pleads-not-guilty-to-manslaughter-in-death-of-bangor-athlete/ printed on July 24, 2014