Cutler man charged in connection with Millinocket teacher’s death pleads not guilty

Posted Aug. 05, 2014, at 11:58 a.m.
Last modified Aug. 05, 2014, at 4:17 p.m.
Scott Ramsdell
Scott Ramsdell

BANGOR, Maine — A Cutler man charged with manslaughter in connection with the Jan. 27 death of a Millinocket teacher in a head-on collision on Route 9 in Eddington pleaded not guilty Tuesday at the Penobscot Judicial Center to charges related to the crash.

Scott Ramsdell, 43, was indicted June 30 by the Penobscot County grand jury on one count each of manslaughter, aggravated criminal operation under the influence of intoxicants, driving to endanger and three counts of stealing drugs.

After accepting Ramsdell’s not guilty plea, Superior Court Justice William Anderson denied a motion to modify Ramsdell’s bail set June 25 at $50,000 surety or $20,000 cash. Ramsdell remained Tuesday at the Penobscot County Jail.

Ramsdell’s attorney, Stephen Smith of Bangor, said after his client’s arraignment that “there seems to be evidence in the police report that [the victim] was texting at the moment of the crash.”

“That calls into question the cause of the crash,” Smith said.

Penobscot County District Attorney R. Christopher Almy said after the arraignment that Ramsdell caused the crash.

“His vehicle went completely into the wrong lane and struck the victim head-on,” he said.

Ramsdell is next scheduled to appear in court on the charges related to the crash on Nov. 10 in Bangor.

He was arrested in connection with the crash June 23 when he appeared at Machias District Court on unrelated domestic violence charges stemming from a November incident in Washington County.

Ramsdell was under the influence of methadone and a muscle relaxant at the time of the crash, according to an affidavit filed in May at the Penobscot Judicial Center. He was driving to Machias for a court appearance on the domestic violence charge when the crash occurred.

The combination of the methadone and the muscle relaxant “contributed to changes in [Ramsdell's] mental status leading to a compromised ability to operate a motor vehicle,” according to Dr. Peter Thompson, who was hired by the Penobscot County district attorney’s office to review the results of Ramsdell’s toxicology report, the affidavit said.

The accident occurred shortly before 6 a.m. Jan. 27. A blood sample was drawn from Ramsdell about three hours later, Andrew Whitehouse, a detective with the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Office, said in the affidavit. Ramsdell was at the Penobscot County Metro Methadone Clinic at 5:35 a.m., less than 30 minutes before the crash.

Denise Golding, 47, of Eddington was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash. Golding was driving west shortly before 6 a.m. Jan. 27 when her Hyundai sedan collided with an eastbound pickup driven by Ramsdell.

A single mother of four grown children, Golding taught English as a second language to Chinese students at Stearns Junior/Senior High School. She had bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Maine in Orono.

If convicted of manslaughter, Ramsdell faces up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000.

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