As prosecutors prepared to rest their case this week against a Massachusetts man charged with manslaughter in a fatal boating collision on Long Lake in Harrison, defense attorneys were expected to begin presenting evidence that Robert LaPointe was not drunk and was operating his boat safely before the crash.

Prosecutors expected to finish presenting their case Thursday morning, after the court was in recess Wednesday. Prosecutors have argued that LaPointe, 39, of Medway, Mass., was traveling too fast and had been drinking when his boat sliced through a smaller boat around 9 p.m. on Aug. 11, 2007, killing Terry Raye Trott, 55, of Naples, and Suzanne Groetzinger, 44, of Berwick.

In about six days of testimony, jurors have heard from LaPointe’s passenger, Nicole Randall, 20, of Bridgton, who was thrown from the 32-foot Sunsation Dominator and swam to shore after the crash, along with LaPointe.

Last week, Randall testified, according to the Associated Press, that she saw LaPointe drinking and saw a boat with its lights off pass them on the water before the crash.

A Bridgton Hospital nurse who drew LaPointe’s blood to test the alcohol level testified Friday. According to court documents, Marlene Fillebrown said LaPointe told her he had been drinking all day and then stopped for an hour before having six more beers.

Fillebrown testified that LaPointe indicated by a gesture that she should draw her own blood and substitute it for his. Fillebrown replied that it was “not gonna happen” before drawing LaPointe’s blood at 12:05 a.m.

LaPointe, who is facing 30 years in prison for each of two counts of manslaughter, is also charged with two counts of aggravated drunken driving and one count of reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon. His lawyers, J. Albert Johnson, George Hasset and Neale Duffett, contend that he was not drunk and was operating his boat safely when the crash occurred.

Through cross-examination, Hasset has tried to show jurors that Trott shared the blame for the collision by his lack of lights, and that for some witnesses LaPointe did not show signs of intoxication.

The prosecution’s case also included testimony from Maine game wardens, the deputy state medical examiner, state chemists and emergency medical technicians who responded to the accident. Jurors also heard from residents of Long Lake who saw the boats passing and heard the collision and owners of the property on Bear Point in Harrison where the boat came to rest 160 feet from shore.

On Monday, both boats were displayed for jurors outside the Cumberland County Superior Courthouse in Portland. Trott’s 14-foot Glasspar runabout was held together with clips and rope.

William Chilcott, owner of a California-based marine testing company, testified Monday and Tuesday about the cause of the crash and alleged violations of navigational rules.

Chilcott testified that Trott’s stern light was off at the time of the collision and that LaPointe’s boat went fully airborne after striking Trott’s boat. The front of Trott’s boat, Chilcott said, was undamaged.

Chilcott estimated the speed of LaPointe’s boat at 50 mph at least and maybe as high as 65 mph, which he said was too fast given the conditions.

“If you can’t see well, you slow down,” Chilcott said.

Warden Kevin Anderson, who finished his testimony before the court went into recess Tuesday afternoon, described to jurors how he reconstructed the accident at a facility in Limestone by suspending both boats in the air. The first step was to reassemble Trott’s boat and document the damage to both boats, after which Anderson reenacted the movement of the boats as well as he could outside of the water.

Anderson estimated that Trott was operating his boat at 10-20 mph, while LaPointe was operating at 40-50 mph. He came to the estimate of LaPointe’s speed from the distance the boat traveled onto land and physical evidence and witness statements indicating that LaPointe’s boat completely left the water after striking Trott’s boat and traveled at a constant speed before and after the collision.

Anderson also considered data gathered from the boat’s electronic control unit, or black box, and LaPointe’s own statement to two investigators that he was traveling at 45 mph.

Anderson also testified to alleged violations of the navigational rules, which are published by the Coast Guard.

Applicable to the collision, Anderson said, were rules to maintain visibility and a proper lookout, regulate speed according to conditions and visibility, avoid collisions, give right of way when overtaking another boat and have the proper lighting.

Anderson said the alleged lack of lighting on Trott’s boat did not exonerate LaPointe of his own responsibilities to operate at a speed at which he could see and avoid potential hazards, which could include items without lights such as logs, docks and swimmers.

“Mr. LaPointe was driving too fast at night,” Anderson said. “His speed was such that he couldn’t avoid the collision.”

In his cross-examination Hasset asked if, since Trott found himself in a situation with no light in the rear of his boat, he should have adjusted to the circumstances and taken greater care to look around him when operating at night.

Earlier in the trial, jurors heard from Maine Game Warden Jason Luce, who interviewed LaPointe on the night of the collision.

Luce, who said he smelled alcohol on LaPointe’s breath soon after the crash, was the one who took LaPointe to the hospital and requested a blood alcohol test.

Jurors heard part of Luce’s taped interview with LaPointe, during which he said he was traveling 45-50 mph when he struck something and was thrown from the boat.

Luce also asked LaPointe how much alcohol he had consumed and other questions, but Justice Robert Crowley ruled previously that the majority of this interview was not admissible in trial because Luce did not inform LaPointe of his right to have an attorney present before asking potentially incriminating questions.

The defense sought to exclude the blood alcohol results for reasons of insufficient probable cause to test LaPointe’s blood and because the sample was not transported promptly and securely to a testing lab. Crowley ruled against the motion.

Police chemist Stephen Pierce estimated that LaPointe’s blood alcohol level was 0.15 percent, almost twice the legal limit of 0.08, at the time of the collision.


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