June 23, 2018
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Teen to serve 15 days in jail for crash that killed Owls Head girl

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 will serve 15 days in jail for a car crash that claimed the life of his 17-year-old passenger. The victim’s family expressed disappointment at the short sentence.

Evan Altiero was sentenced Monday in Rockland District Court on a reduced charge of reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon, which in this case was a 1998 BMW Z3. Altiero originally had been charged with manslaughter.

Assistant District Attorney Lindsay Jones said that a state police reconstructionist had determined that the minimum speed that Altiero was driving — when his vehicle went off Route 73 in South Thomaston shortly before midnight June 20, 2011 — was 50 mph in a 40-mph zone.

The vehicle went off the road and rolled several times, police said at the time of the crash.

Killed in the crash was Aleisha Sonksen, 17, of Owls Head.

Sonksen’s father, stepmother and other relatives were in the courtroom Monday and expressed opposition in comments made after the hearing to the agreement reached between the defense and the district attorney’s office.

“I’m disappointed in the system,” said Sonksen’s father, Marlowe Sonksen.

He said he voiced his disapproval to the prosecution but that it made no difference.

“The penalty for killing someone is two weeks in jail,” he added.

Stepmother Nancy Sonksen said she also was frustrated that Altiero’s family was allowed to drive him to jail.

Judge Susan Sparaco said that Altiero had until 6 p.m. Monday to report to the Mountain View Youth Correctional Center in Charleston.

Altiero will be placed on probation for two years. If he violates probation he could be required to serve part or all of the underlying sentence of commitment to Mountain View until he is 21. Altiero was a juvenile when the crash occurred and was processed through the court system as a juvenile.

Marlowe Sonksen said that Altiero had admitted to going 85 mph. District Attorney Geoffrey Rushlau said that the teen made comments to other people that he had been driving 80 mph at one point but it was not certain that was the speed when the crash occurred.

Alcohol was not involved in the crash, the district attorney noted. Altiero had no prior speeding offenses, he said.

Nancy Sonksen said the death of Aleisha will be felt forever. Aleisha had completed her junior year at Camden Hills Regional High School a few weeks before her death.

“She will not have a wedding. She will not have children. We will not have grandchildren,” Nancy Sonksen said.

Altiero was represented by attorney Philip Cohen of Waldoboro.

Months earlier, Cohen had asked the state to provide a list of every summons for moving violations that had been issued within one mile of the crash site and for all summonses for speeding in Knox County with the same speed limit as the crash site. The defense said it wanted the information to show that Altiero’s actions were not a gross deviation from what a reasonable person would do, which is an element in proving manslaughter.

Altiero had been charged in January but has been free since the juvenile petition was filed.

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