AUGUSTA — A homeless man who was sentenced Wednesday to a year in prison for hitting and killing a pedestrian with his vehicle plans to appeal the sentence.

Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy sentenced Andrew Bilodeau to 10 years in prison, with all but one year suspended, and four years of probation in a hearing at the Capital Judicial Center.

Bilodeau, now 56, struck and killed 81-year-old Emile Morin, of Augusta, with his vehicle in November 2017. Morin was using a crosswalk on Northern Avenue at Kendall Street to get to his car after he, his wife and a friend attended Mass at St. Augustine Church followed by a bean supper.

A Kennebec County jury found Bilodeau guilty of manslaughter in December 2018. Bilodeau was born with cerebral palsy, and he uses metal crutches when he walks and a wheelchair at other times. During his trial, his attorney, Kevin Sullivan, said Bilodeau was properly licensed, and that the Bureau of Motor Vehicles was aware of Bilodeau’s physical and vision impairments.

Bilodeau declined to speak at his sentencing Wednesday.

Morin’s widow, Gisele Morin, spoke at Wednesday’s hearing about the impact the loss of her husband has had on her.

“I lost my life partner, my love and my lover,” Morin said. They were married for 59 years at the time of Morin’s death.

Gisele Morin said after the supper, her husband had walked ahead of her and their friend when she saw a car approaching.

“In 1 second, my life was changed,” she said softly. “I said, ‘Oh, my God, that car is going so fast, and I turned to see where Emile was. I saw him fly 10- to 15-feet up in the air,'” and the car that struck him wasn’t stopping.

She ran to her husband to try to find a pulse and she called for help. She didn’t know whether he was still alive and she prayed to God to not let him die.

Caryn Murphy, Morin’s daughter, also spoke at the hearing, detailing the trauma that her mother and two of her brothers, who were at the scene that night, have suffered.

“My dad died because Andrew made the decision to drive,” Murphy said, noting that Bilodeau has both visual and motor impairments. “He chose to make his wants and needs more important than the safety of my dad.”

Bilodeau was not cognitively impaired, as someone who drives under the influence of alcohol and drugs would be, and he could have made a different decision, she said.

“He knew his limitations,” Murphy said, “and chose to ignore them.”

Both women spoke about the impact Emile Morin’s death has had on their family.

Gisele Morin said she relied on her husband for help around the house. Now, to avoid being a burden to her family, she pays people to do the things that Emile used to do, like clearing snow from the driveway. But with the loss of income due to his death, she’s worried about her financial future.

Murphy said her family was satisfied with the recommendation of four years probation, but strongly disagreed with the prosecutor’s recommendation of five years with all but nine months suspended and other conditions. Bilodeau should at least serve what those convicted of vehicular manslaughter while operating under the influence get, between two and five years.

“This is worse,” she said. “He knew what he was doing.”

Sullivan, Bilodeau’s attorney, had argued against both incarceration and probation for his client.

“To put him on probation (for four years) doesn’t seem to make sense,” Sullivan said. “It won’t last as long as his license suspension.”

And if one of the conditions of the probation is to keep Bilodeau from contacting Gisele Morin, Sullivan said the court could issue a protection order.

In describing how she arrived at the sentence, the judge said she followed a three-step process: Looking at the crime and how it was committed; considering the maximum sentence and weighing mitigating and aggravating factors; and establishing the final sentence.

Murphy noted that unlike in many other vehicular manslaughter cases, Bilodeau was not speeding, he was not under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and his car was not defective and there are few cases to compare this one to for guidance on sentencing.

Giving no jail time would diminish the gravity of the crime committed, Murphy said. At the same time, the court cannot ignore the significant challenge in keeping Bilodeau safe while in custody, but that’s the job of the Department of Corrections.

While Frayla Tarpinian, the Kennebec County assistant district attorney, suggested Bilodeau serve his sentence in a county jail – unusual for a vehicular manslaughter sentence, Murphy noted – Murphy said the Maine Correctional Center in Windham is better equipped to house Bilodeau.

Bilodeau, who is homeless, has been living at the Bread of Life shelter in Augusta. He will remain free on bail while his appeal is being considered.

A call to Sullivan Wednesday was not returned.

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