A Bangor man was sentenced Tuesday to 10 years in prison with all but 3½ years suspended on charges that arose from a May 6 crash in Hudson that killed his longtime best friend.
James M. McBride, 44, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and aggravated operating while under the influence of intoxicants just prior to sentencing. The charge of driving to endanger was dismissed in a plea agreement with the Penobscot County District Attorney’s Office.
Superior Court Justice William Anderson called the sentence fair after emotional statements from the victim’s and McBride’s family members.
Marianne Lynch, deputy district attorney for Penobscot County, recommended a sentence of 10 years with all but 3½ years suspended. Defense attorney Martha Harris urged the judge to put McBride in prison for fewer years but did not suggest a specific number of years.
McBride was drunk and driving between 90 and 102 mph in a 45-mph zone shortly before the car went off the road in Hudson, according to the Penobscot County District Attorney’s Office. His blood-alcohol level after the crash was .17 percent, more than twice the legal limit of .08 percent. He also said cocaine and marijuana were found in his system.
Mark W. “Billy” Allard, 44, of Glenburn was killed in the crash. He was a passenger in the 2005 Chrysler 300 driven by McBride when it went off Route 221, also known as Hudson Road, at about 7:12 p.m. May 6, Lynch told Anderson.
Allard was in the rear passenger seat and not wearing a seatbelt when McBride lost control of the car and crossed the centerline, the prosecutor said. He was ejected when the car became airborne, hit a tree 6 feet off the ground, flipped over several times and landed in a field, Penobscot County Sheriff’s Detective William Flagg told the judge Tuesday. Allard was pronounced dead at the scene.
McBride, Allard and two other passengers had been at a party in Hudson that day when they decided to take the car for a ride. None of them owned the Chrysler, according to investigators. McBride admitted to using cocaine and drinking alcohol before driving the car, according to court documents.
Robin Marsh of Hudson suffered neck fractures, a broken left femur and crushed left knee in the accident. She told the judge Tuesday that she screamed for McBride to slow down just before he lost control of the car.
“Why didn’t he stop when I was screaming for him to stop?” Marsh asked. “I don’t hate him, but I’m so angry. Why did someone have to die for three seconds of a thrill?”
Allard’s aunt, Virginia Rawls of Lewiston, told the judge that “Mark is forever removed from our lives, and it is a life sentence for us.”
“[McBride] will be a free man again one day, free to breathe the air, free to hug his family, say his I love you’s, free to rewrite his course, choose a different path,” Rawls said, shaking with emotion. “Free to get a new job, free to get married, have children, see his children, see grandchildren, visit his parents. Mark can no longer do these things.”
McBride’s daughter, Alexis McBride, told the judge that her father “has a good heart” and “is always trying to quit drinking.” She asked that he spend as little time in prison as possible.
Harris read a statement written by McBride in which he took responsibility for his actions, apologized to Allard’s family and asked for their forgiveness. He admitted that “there were so many chances to avoid this accident.”
In addition to prison time, the judge sentenced McBride to four years of probation and ordered him to pay $4,400 in restitution to the Victim’s Compensation Fund and $1,500 to Rawls for Allard’s funeral expenses. The judge also ordered McBride to pay a $2,100 fine. The law calls for his license to be suspended for life by the Maine Secretary of State’s office.
McBride, who has been held at Penobscot County Jail unable to post $25,000 bail since June, faced up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000 on the manslaughter charge alone.
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