A 63-year-old Biddeford man whose conviction for a fatal drunk-driving crash attracted statewide attention died in prison this week, the state Department of Corrections said.

David LaBonte died about 8:36 p.m. Tuesday at the Bolduc Correctional Facility in Warren. The Department of Corrections said the death was not related to COVID-19, but it did not provide other information.

David Labonte, seen at his arraignment for manslaughter in 2013, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

“There is no further information available at this time,” Anna Black, a department spokesperson, said Wednesday afternoon when asked about the cause of death and whether it is under investigation.

LaBonte was sentenced in 2015 to 10 years in prison for manslaughter in a drunk-driving crash in which he struck a family on bicycles as they rode on a sidewalk in August 2013.

The crash killed Jamerico Elliott and badly injured his 17-month-old son, Lavarice Elliott. The boy’s mother, Melodie Brennan, suffered less serious injuries.

Police said Labonte’s blood-alcohol content was 0.15 to 0.17 percent, about twice the legal threshold for drunken driving. Because of prior drunken-driving convictions, he was not allowed to have any alcohol in his system while driving.


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 since 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.

Family members of the victims said the 10-year-sentence was not enough. Labonte apologized at his sentencing hearing.

“I’m deeply sorry for all that happened,” he said. “This has been the darkest time in my life. It haunts me every day.”

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