PORTLAND – Roberta Robertshaw says she had been strung out on drugs for so long that she didn’t even realize she was too impaired to drive on the night of Oct. 14, 2009.

If she had realized, she said, she wouldn’t have gotten behind the wheel of the Ford station wagon. She wouldn’t have swerved across the centerline of Route 25 in Standish, and she wouldn’t have crashed into the oncoming car, ending the life of Gilbert Howard, a 76-year-old man with four children, five grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

“I’d do anything to get back that evening,” a tearful Robertshaw said Wednesday in Cumberland County Superior Court. “I never meant to hurt anybody.”

Robertshaw, a 28-year-old Baldwin resident with no prior criminal history, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and aggravated drunken driving.

She was sentenced to 30 months in prison and four years of supervised probation. Robertshaw will lose her license for 10 years, and she was ordered to pay a $2,100 fine.

Robertshaw admitted that she was impaired on the night of the crash by a combination of methadone and anti-anxiety drugs. She apologized to Howard’s family, many of whom attended but declined to speak at the hearing. Robertshaw also apologized to her 7-year-old daughter and told Justice Joyce Wheeler that she is determined to succeed in drug treatment and become a good mother again.

Wheeler said the 30-month sentence was enough to send a message to the public but still give Robertshaw a chance to redeem herself.

“What your daughter will remember most is how you deal with this,” Wheeler said. “If you are able to turn your life around and maintain sobriety and be there, and be the mother you want to be, that’s what she will remember.”

The prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney Bud Ellis, recommended a three-year sentence for Robertshaw.

He said one aggravating factor against Robertshaw was that she didn’t admit her drug use until the investigation was well under way. Instead, Robertshaw initially blamed the crash on various causes, including a panic attack and distraction from a dog that was riding in her car.

Amanda Doherty, Robertshaw’s lawyer, said her client didn’t immediately discuss the drug use because she had received the methadone from her boyfriend and she was worried that he would get into trouble.

“From the beginning, Ms. Robertshaw has been extremely remorseful and emotional about this situation,” Doherty told the judge.

Staff Writer Trevor Maxwell can be contacted at 791-6451 or at:

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