Friday, March 7, 2014
A Portland man with seven drunken-driving convictions who led police on a high-speed chase on Interstate 295 that ended in a violent, tumbling crash in Portland has been sentenced to serve 10 years in prison.
The judge who sentenced Robby Beaulieu on Monday in Cumberland County Unified Criminal Court described the scenes in a video of the chase March 21 as “chilling.”
Beaulieu, 42, reached speeds of 110 mph trying to elude police, weaving southbound through early-evening traffic before veering off the highway on the Forest Avenue off-ramp and crashing.
His blood-alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit when he flipped his 2002 Cadillac DeVille. He was thrown from the car, landed in snow and tried to keep running from Trooper Douglas Cropper, who had chased him in his cruiser from Yarmouth.
In arguing for a stiffer sentence, Assistant District Attorney Hannah May showed Justice Roland Cole a video of the chase taken from the dashboard camera of Cropper’s cruiser. The sounds of the chase were recorded, followed by Cropper’s voice as he arrested Beaulieu at gunpoint.
“Get away from him! Get away from him,” Cropper yelled, presumably to bystanders, before turning his attention to Beaulieu. “Do not move! Do not move!”
Beaulieu had spent 14 of the previous 20 years behind bars and hasn’t had an active driver’s license since 1989, when he was first arrested for drunken driving at age 18, according to statements that he and the prosecutor made in court. Beaulieu’s license has been ordered suspended at least 36 times, according to Cropper’s report.
“It’s chilling, the number of people who got out of the way when he was operating at a high rate of speed with the blue lights behind him,” Cole said. “It’s a miracle someone didn’t get ... seriously injured or killed.”
Cole did not act on a written request by the Portland Press Herald on Monday to release the video.
The judge ordered Beaulieu to serve the two years remaining in a sentence from a drunken-driving case in 2006 in which Beaulieu drove the wrong way on a road in Windham with his young son with him.
Cole ordered Beaulieu to serve three years on another arrest, Feb. 8 in Westbrook, for driving as a habitual offender. He ordered Beaulieu to serve five years for the latest offenses. Beaulieu must serve the sentences consecutively, totaling 10 years, and pay $6,675 in fines.
Beaulieu had pleaded guilty to six charges in this year’s two cases, and admitted to violating his probation in the 2006 case.
The charges from this year include felony operation under the influence, eluding police, aggravated driving to endanger, driving after habitual offender revocation, aggravated driving after habitual offender revocation, and a misdemeanor bail violation.
The prosecutor asked the judge to impose a longer sentence with no probation.
“I don’t believe that Mr. Beaulieu is a candidate for rehabilitation,” May said. “Probation doesn’t work for this individual.”
Beaulieu’s attorney, Peter Richard Jr., argued that his client was severely abused as a child, uses alcohol and drugs to “self-medicate,” and needs rehabilitation and treatment.
“When Robby gets out of prison, he is going to be exponentially worse without treatment,” Richard said, arguing for a five-year prison term with court-ordered treatment as part of probation. “He doesn’t take substances and go on joy rides because he enjoys breaking the law. He takes substances to escape his trauma. He’s addicted to getting away from what’s tormenting him every day.”
Beaulieu spoke at the hearing, saying he didn’t know why he led police on the chase. He said he got in the car because he thought people were following him.
“I apologize for my actions, to this court and my community. I’m very grateful that nobody was hurt by my actions,” Beaulieu said. “I’ve been in prison four times, and every time I get out, after I run out of my first weeks of medication, I feel like I’ve been dropped in a land that I don’t understand and everything is overwhelming.”
The judge rejected Beaulieu’s request for probation but urged him to take advantage of programs offered by the Department of Corrections, including some that allow early release into monitored treatment programs.
Scott Dolan can be contacted at 791-6304 or at: