ROCKLAND — A judge on Monday afternoon rejected a defense request to throw out a blood test taken from a truck driver charged with two counts of manslaughter and other offenses from a 2016 crash.

Superior Court Justice William Stokes also rejected a motion to suppress results of the electronic control module in the truck driven by Randall Junior Weddle. The crash on March 18, 2016, on Route 17 in Washington claimed the lives of Christina Torres-York, 45, of Warren and Paul Fowles, 74, of Owls Head.

Weddle, 55, of Tennessee, was indicted in June 2016 on two counts of manslaughter, three counts of aggravated operating under the influence, two counts of driving to endanger and eight counts of various trucking rule violations. Those violations include false record-keeping, driving while fatigued, driving while using alcohol and driving while possessing alcohol.

He has pleaded not guilty to all the charges. Weddle has been held at the Knox County Jail in Rockland in lieu of $100,000 cash bail since his arrest in May 2016.

The jury for his trial was selected Monday. The trial is scheduled to begin Tuesday, although Stokes said the trial could be delayed depending on the weather.

The renewed attempt to suppress the blood test taken at the crash scene came in the wake of a federal judge’s ruling Jan. 17 that a blood draw taken from Cushing fishing boat captain Christopher Hutchinson to test for drugs could not be used at his trial, which begins next month. The ruling by U.S. District Judge D. Brock Hornby led Weddle’s defense team to ask Stokes to reconsider the admissibility of the blood test taken on Weddle at the crash scene. That test showed a blood alcohol level of 0.09.


A hearing was held Monday in Knox County Superior Court.

In the federal case, Hornby ruled that federal investigators failed to get a warrant from the court to obtain the blood sample and there were no exigent circumstances requiring the test to be taken before a warrant was obtained. The government also did not have probable cause for the draw at the time it was taken, Hornby ruled.

There was also no warrant for the blood test from Weddle at the scene of the truck crash.

But Justice Stokes said the facts surrounding the Hutchinson case and the Weddle case were different in that he determined there were exigent circumstances following the truck crash.

“This was a double fatality scene that was truly chaotic,” he said.

He said he based his ruling on state law and prior Maine Supreme Judicial Court rulings.


He said the supreme court might have to settle the matter.

Stokes also rejected the request to exclude the results of the electronic control module from the engine of the truck. The defense had argued that the technician who read the results did not know the coding for the system and could not verify that the readings were reliable.

Data later downloaded from the truck’s engine control module recorded the truck as traveling at 81 mph shortly before the crash and 73 mph when the crash occurred.

The speed limit is 55 mph on that section of Route 17.

The defense team for Weddle also asked that the blood test taken at the hospital not be used, because of questions about the chain of custody of the sample. Stokes also rejected that request but said that the defense can challenge the veracity of the evidence before jurors.

That test showed a blood alcohol level of 0.073. Stokes ruled that Weddle consented to that test, and thus no court warrant was required, although the defense claimed he was on pain medication and injured and was not capable of waiving his right to refuse.


Under Maine law, a person is considered to be operating under the influence if his or her blood alcohol level is 0.08 or greater. Federal law says a commercial driver is under the influence if his or her blood alcohol level is 0.04 or greater.

Weddle is represented by attorneys Jeremy Pratt, Christopher MacLean and Laura Shaw of Camden. District Attorney Jonathan Liberman and Assistant District Attorney Jeffrey Baroody are prosecuting the case.

Police reported in an affidavit filed in court in 2016 that Weddle’s driver’s license had been earlier revoked in Virginia. He also had his license suspended in Louisiana.

Weddle told both officers that he had not been feeling well and thought he had a cold or flu. He said he had taken a drug called Lortab. That drug contains hydrocodone, according to court documents.

Weddle said he had come from Tennessee and made a delivery in Boston before coming to Maine to pick up lumber at Robbins Lumber in Searsmont. Weddle was traveling back to Tennessee to deliver the load when the crash occurred.

Weddle was driving west on Route 17 near Fitch Road in a 1998 Freightliner when the rig veered into the eastbound lane, according to police. Fowles was driving east in a 2009 Chevrolet Colorado and was the first vehicle in line hit by the truck.

The trailer and load of lumber then struck a 1998 Chrysler van that was behind Fowles, driven by Torres-York. The van was pushed into a nearby field and burst into flames.

The state initially offered Weddle a 30-year prison sentence with all but 20 years suspended, an offer rejected by the Tennessee man. The maximum sentence for manslaughter is 30 years.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.