AUBURN — A judge heard arguments Friday on motions to keep from trial evidence a blood test and information from a seized cellphone in the case of a New Gloucester man charged with manslaughter in a 2017 car crash.

The car driven by Steven Primavera, 35, on Sept. 22, 2017, crossed the centerline and veered into the oncoming lane on Court Street before striking a motorcycle, then slammed into a tree shortly before 6 p.m., according to police.

Reginal Clement, 54, of Starks, who was driving the 2013 Harley-Davidson, was killed. His wife, Kathryn, had been following Clement on her motorcycle.

Prosecutors called four police officers to the witness stand to testify about their roles in the investigation of the crash.

Detective Terrence McCormick, lead investigator at the scene, testified that he was off duty when he was summoned to the scene. He interviewed Primavera for roughly half an hour about the crash while sitting in a cruiser there. That interview was played for Androscoggin County Superior Court Justice MaryGay Kennedy on Friday.

McCormick testified he had ordered an officer at the scene to conduct a field sobriety test on Primavera after noting his speech had been “slow and deliberate” and sometimes was so faint it was barely audible during the interview “to the point I had a hard time understanding what he was saying.”

But McCormick said he detected no smell of intoxicating liquor on Primavera nor any other signs of impairment.

During the field test, Officer Tyler Ham said, he didn’t detect any indicators for impairment on two of three tests. On the third test, called a walk and turn, which involved eight indicators of possible impairment, Primavera lost his balance while Ham gave him instructions, then made an improper turn.

Ham only noticed those two indicators.

He told McCormick afterward that Primavera might have had some sort of impairment, he said.

Although Primavera wasn’t arrested at the scene of the crash, Ham told defense attorney Jesse Archer on Friday that he didn’t believe Primavera had been free to leave the crash scene at any time.

Officer Bernice Westleigh testified Friday that she was called to the scene while off duty to draw blood from Primavera. She said she read to him from a form seeking his consent to draw his blood. He told her he understood and signed a card, she said.

While she was drawing a second vial of blood, Primavera told her he felt faint, so she didn’t fill the second vial, she said.

Asked by defense attorney James Howaniec whether she’d noticed any signs of impairment, she said she hadn’t.

He asked her about the times noted for Primavera’s consent and the blood draw, which indicated she drew his blood before he consented. She explained that she had likely erred in recording the time of the consent.

The drugs detected in Primavera’s system from blood analysis included methadone and Xanax, both prescription drugs, police said. Primavera had said he’d gone to a methadone clinic at 7 a.m. that day. The crash occurred at 5:52 p.m.

McCormick said he seized Primavera’s cellphone before he left the scene of the crash. After putting the phone in an evidence locker at the station, McCormick said, he filled out an application for a search warrant, which he supported with an affidavit.

On cross-examination, he told Howaniec he had wanted to see whether Primavera had been calling or texting at the time of the crash.

Howaniec read from the search warrant that McCormick was seeking “‘electronic records or data, including but not limited to the records of electronic communications (such as records of incoming and outgoing private chats, IP addresses, photographs or video images and any other electronic records or data location information, as well as any records or data that demonstrates the identity of the person who owned or exercised dominion or control over the electronic records or data contained therein.’ Correct?” Howaniec said. “So you wanted to know what was in the cellphone.”

“Yes,” McCormick said.

“Were there any limitations on what you were looking for in the cellphone?”

McCormick said he “wanted to make sure I’d find everything that could help in the case. I don’t want to leave anything left out that I might miss, so, yeah, I wanted to know what’s on the phone.”

Police said messages on Primavera’s cellphone showed no activity from 1:25 a.m. until 5:55 p.m. on Sept. 22, when he wrote to his girlfriend that he “hit a motorcycle head-on.”

A second message from him informed his girlfriend that police intended to draw his blood, “so I might go to jail.”

McCormick wrote in his report, “Primavera knew he had drugs in his system that impaired his driving ability as indicated in the above text message.”

Testimony is expected to continue Monday.


Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: