ALFRED — A Biddeford man with a history of drunken-driving arrests will serve 10 years in prison for driving his pickup truck into a family taking a bike ride in August 2013, killing the father and injuring a 17-month-old boy who barely survived.

David Labonte, 56, of Cathedral Oaks Drive, pleaded guilty Wednesday in York County Superior Court in Alfred to manslaughter and other charges in the crash. Judge Paul Fritzsche sentenced him to 10 years in prison, with another 10 years suspended.

The case drew statewide attention because Labonte had four prior drunken-driving convictions, but he was legally able to drive since two of the convictions were in the 1980s. An analysis by the Maine Sunday Telegram after the crash found that more than 5,000 people still had driving privileges after being stopped four or more times for drunken driving. That number jumped to almost 15,000 for people who had at least three prior cases of operating under the influence, or OUI.

Legislators have now changed the law so that any prior felony drunken-driving convictions, regardless of how long ago they happened, can be considered in determining the severity of a subsequent OUI charge. The law also says a second drunken-driving conviction within a 10-year period results in an automatic three-year license suspension.


Labonte’s truck struck a family of three as they rode their bicycles on the sidewalk on Aug. 2, 2013. The crash at 364 Elm St. killed Jamerico Elliott, 51, and badly injured his toddler son, Lavarice Elliott. The child’s mother, Melodie Brennan, suffered less serious injuries.


Police found the toddler with road rash over much of his body and his bicycle helmet smashed into pieces. The child had a faint pulse and several broken bones.

Labonte’s blood-alcohol content was 0.15 percent to 0.17 percent, about twice the legal threshold for drunken driving. He admitted having two shots of alcohol before he got behind the wheel. Because of his prior convictions, he was not supposed to have any alcohol in his system while driving.

A driver who passed Labonte before the crash said he appeared to be asleep, with his head on his chest. He drove across two lanes of traffic and through business parking lots before hitting the cyclists.

After the hearing, Brennan said that 10 years in prison was not enough.

“He should have been in there for life. He took my son’s father away,” she said.

Brennan addressed the court Wednesday through a victim advocate who stood by her side, saying the crash left her with not even enough money to buy diapers for her child. Labonte had no car insurance. Lavarice has recovered and is doing well, although he still has anger issues and asks where his father is, Brennan said.


Christopher Martin, who was with his mother and 3-year-old son in a pickup that Labonte also hit, said Labonte got off easy because he didn’t have to witness the bloody carnage of the accident scene, which gave Martin’s son night terrors for a year.

Labonte had previously pleaded not guilty to the charges, but on Wednesday he pleaded guilty to manslaughter, drunk driving resulting in death, two counts of aggravated assault, reckless conduct, assault and aggravated criminal mischief.

Labonte appeared in court in an orange jumpsuit and read an apology to the court.

“I’m deeply sorry for all that happened. Nobody deserved that,” he said. “This has been the darkest time in my life. It haunts me every day.”


Labonte will serve six years of probation after his release. If he violates probation by drinking or driving, he could be returned to prison to serve the remaining 10 years of his suspended sentence.

Labonte’s driver’s license also was suspended for 10 years after his release from prison. He would have to petition to have it restored.

The sentence recommendation was part of a plea agreement among Assistant District Attorney Brian Roberts and defense attorneys Jerry Conley and Neale Duffett. In agreeing to the sentence, Fritzsche referenced the long-term impact of Labonte’s actions.

“He caused an incredible amount of carnage, and permanent and irreversible damage (when he) made that decision to drink and drive. … All (of the family’s) hopes and everything that went with that has gone away,” Fritzsche said, adding that he hoped the sentence might lead some other person to decide to stop drinking and driving.

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