November 30, 2012

Teen driver in fatal crash accused of violating probation

By Scott Dolan sdolan@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

PORTLAND – A teenage driver who avoided jail time by accepting a plea deal after causing a fatal crash in 2010 is back in state custody, accused of violating terms of her probation.

Morgan Kesseli, now 19, tried to run from officers as she was led from the courtroom Friday after a juvenile proceeding. She made it a only few steps toward her boyfriend before a sheriff's deputy and judicial marshal took hold of her and escorted her from the room.

Judge Jeffrey Moskowitz ordered Kesseli held with no right to release pending a hearing Dec. 20.

Kesseli, who lived in Paris, was 17 in October 2010 when she lost control of the sport utility vehicle she was driving, crossed the center line on Waterford Road in Harrison and crashed into trees.

One passenger, her 18-year-old friend Thomas "Colby" McLendon, died. Two other passengers, Jacob Hill, then 20, and Timothy Coffin, then 21, were badly injured.

McLendon's parents sat in the back row of the courtroom Friday. Kesseli's boyfriend and father sat in the front row of the spectator section.

As part of Kesseli's plea agreement on July 27, the two most serious charges against her -- manslaughter and elevated aggravated assault -- were dropped. She was found guilty of three counts of aggravated assault, reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon and aggravated driving to endanger.

She was sentenced to 21 months of probation, the amount of time that remained until her 21st birthday.

By Nov. 12, she allegedly had violated the terms of her probation. According to the allegation against Kesseli, Bangor police went to her apartment at the request of her mother to check on Kesseli's welfare. She apparently had moved out.

Prosecutors say her failure to notify authorities that she had moved was her first probation offense.

Police in Rumford found her on Nov. 21, when she allegedly admitted to using marijuana and cocaine. She was also charged with possession of drug paraphernalia, according to the probation violation notice.

"She had been supervised for a long period of time before she went on probation," Assistant District Attorney Michelle McCulloch told the judge. "Over the past month, things have fallen apart."

Although Kesseli was not intoxicated at the time of the crash, substance use became "a primary concern" while the case was pending against her, McCulloch said.

Investigators concluded that excessive speed was the primary factor in the accident.

 

Staff Writer Scott Dolan can be contacted at 791-6304 or at:

sdolan@mainetoday.com

 

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