Thursday, September 29, 2005

Trucker pleads not guilty

Published in the Current

SCARBOROUGH (Sep 29, 2005): The truck driver who caused the July 29 accident that killed a Scarborough woman pleaded not guilty Monday to nine misdemeanor charges stemming from the crash.

Scott Hewitt of Caribou faces charges in Kennebec County Superior Court of operating after suspension, possession of a suspended driver’s license, operating without authority, operating after being placed out of service, two counts of falsifying truck logs, operating without a medical certificate, operating while in possession of a radar detector and operating while in possession of a controlled substance.

Hewitt has not been charged with anything that holds him responsible for the death of Tina Turcotte, 40, whose car was crushed when Hewitt’s tractor-trailer failed to slow down behind her on I-95 in Hallowell. Turcotte and a truck ahead of her were slowing for a traffic backup ahead of them.

Kennebec County District Attorney Evert Fowle said the evidence did not allow him to charge Hewitt with manslaughter.

Michael Vaillancourt, the attorney for Turcotte’s husband, Scott Turcotte, said last week he was dissapointed Hewitt was not charged with manslaughter. And Turcotte’s mother and stepfather, Pat and Bob LaNigra, said last week they blame state lawmakers for not making better laws and police officers for failing to enforce existing laws. The LaNigras said if those two groups had done their jobs, Turcotte would still be alive.

Hewitt’s driving record contains more than 60 convictions and more than 20 suspensions of his license.

Hewitt finished a sentence on unrelated charges in Cumberland County Jail Wednesday, and was transferred to Kennebec County Jail, where he was being held on $100,000 cash bail or a $500,000 property bond.

A hearing in which Hewitt will request those amounts be lowered was slated for Wednesday morning, but has been put off until Oct. 7, according to a Kennebec County Superior court clerk.

Hewitt was originally going to be held on $100,000 cash bail. A judge changed Hewitt's bail requirements to allow him to post a $500,000 property bond as an alternative.

The new possibility of posting a property bond has alarmed state Sen. William Diamond, D-Windham, the senate majority leader and a former Maine secretary of state.

In a statement Monday, Diamond said he feared the bond would make it easier for Hewitt to post bail and get back on the road. Diamond noted that shortly after the fatal crash in July, Hewitt was again arrested on a charge of driving after suspension.