A lobsterman from Cushing will remain jailed until his manslaughter trial despite an impassioned plea to have him released to the custody and supervision of his parents.
U.S. Magistrate Judge John Rich ruled Monday that Christopher Hutchinson, 28, should not be allowed bail since he already violated conditions when he used drugs and overdosed last month.
His parents, who sat in the courtroom during the hearing in Portland, cried as the judge read his decision. As Hutchinson left the courthouse in handcuffs, he turned to them and said, “I’ll be all right.”
Hutchinson is charged with seaman’s manslaughter in connection with the Nov. 1, 2014, deaths of Tom Hammond, 27, of Rockland and Tyler Sawyer, 15, of St. George. Investigators believe Hutchinson was under the influence of alcohol and opioids when he sailed his lobster boat, No Limits, into a storm, sinking it. Hutchinson was rescued by Coast Guard officials, but his crewmen, Hammond and Sawyer, did not survive.
Hutchinson was arrested in December after a lengthy investigation and posted $10,000 bail three days later with conditions that he not use substances. He violated those conditions on March 14, when he overdosed on heroin and needed to be revived with the drug Narcan.
His attorney, Michael Turndorf, said Monday that his client should be released to his parents, who would monitor him constantly and ensure that he be treated for his addiction. His mother had even taken a leave of absence from her job as a nurse.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Halsey Frank, however, argued that he didn’t think Hutchinson would be able to abide by any bail condition and the judge agreed, although he commended the parents’ commitment to their son.
“The court has no doubt they will do everything in their power,” he said.
The Hutchinsons declined to speak with a reporter after the hearing.
Frank, in addition to his belief that Hutchinson could not abide by conditions that he not use drugs, told the judge he had concerns that the defendant was still operating a boat, potentially putting other crew members at risk.
In an interview Hutchinson gave a few days after his boat sank in November 2014, he said the No Limits was on its way back to the mainland after a day of hauling traps when the seas and winds quickly intensified, causing the 45-foot fiberglass lobster boat to flip.
A weather buoy nearby reported wind gusts of 40 knots and waves of up to 14 feet. The boat flipped about 11 a.m. several miles west of Matinicus, he said.
The federal indictment alleges that Hutchinson was negligent in operating the vessel by going out when the weather forecast called for dangerous weather and sea conditions. The government also claims he was using controlled substances and alcohol while he drove the vessel.
He is scheduled to go on trial later this year.
In July 2015, Superior Court Justice Daniel Billings ruled that $170,500 in damages should go to Michelle Miete of Washington, who is the personal representative of the estate of Hammond, and the remaining $139,500 of the settlement fund will go to Lisa Chickering and Travis Sawyer, the parents and personal representatives of Tyler Sawyer.