Kenneth Morang listens as his attorney, Amy Fairfield, questions a witness in Cumberland County Superior Court in Portland on Monday. Morang was charged with manslaughter after he crashed into a family’s SUV, killing a 9-year-old girl. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

The former corrections officer who fell asleep at the wheel and caused a crash that killed a 9-year-old girl in 2019 told a police officer immediately after the wreck that he should have listened to his body and was too tired to be driving, the officer testified Tuesday.

But there was no recording of the conversation between Kenneth Morang, 64, and Gorham Police Detective Sgt. Daniel Young, the lead investigator, because Young did not have his voice recorder during the interview. Young had to return to Maine Medical Center two days later to interview Morang again, this time on tape.

That recording from the hospital room was played for the jury during the second day of Morang’s trial on a manslaughter charge in Cumberland County Unified Criminal Court on Tuesday, but the audio quality was poor and Morang’s voice was partly unintelligible. Later, York County Deputy District Attorney Justina McGettigan asked Young to clarify: What do you remember Morang telling you about his body during your first meeting with him?

“He said he was foolish for not listening to his body, telling him that he was too tired, or words to that effect,” Young said. “He was very respectful, matter of fact, he was definitely remorseful of what had happened.”

The crash killed 9-year-old Raelynn Bell, who was in the third-row seat of her father’s Honda SUV. Raelynn, her father and two sisters were returning to Standish on July 21, 2019, after seeing a movie in Westbrook when Morang rear-ended their car as it was stopped in a left-hand turn lane along Ossipee Trail. Morang was charged with manslaughter in her death.

During cross-examination, Morang’s defense attorney, Amy Fairfield, pressed Young on why he did not record the first interview session. Isn’t it department policy to record interviews, Fairfield asked. Yes, but only when the interview subject is in custody, Young said. However, he agreed under questioning that it was “best practice” to record.


Fairfield pressed Young further: Why not use his department-issued iPhone and its recording app?

“I don’t know how to use the recording function of an iPhone,” Young said. “We don’t use our phones for evidentiary purposes because those phones become part of evidence. There’s also personal information, pictures of my children, conversations with my wife.”

Two police officers who reconstructed the crash using measurements from the scene and data pulled from Morang’s vehicle computer, which saves key information when a crash is detected, testified Tuesday that Morang’s Ford F-150 was traveling 51 mph at the moment of impact and that he did not brake before the crash.


Morang, who was close to retirement, told Young he worked long hours because he wanted to boost his state retirement benefits, which are calculated as a percentage of the average of an officer’s top three years’ salary.

Young said Morang told him he worked between 90 and 100 hours each week and slept about four hours each night, earning as much as $140,000 in overtime in the past and he was on track to do it again.

Prosecutors also called a former Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office deputy who testified that he had spoken to Morang nearly a year before the wreck, in September 2018, after someone called in a report of an erratic driver.

Evan Rea, who now works for the Oxford County Sheriff’s Office, testified that he went to Morang’s address after running a license plate number that came in with the erratic driving complaint.

Rea said Morang told him he worked at the jail, had gotten off a long shift and that’s probably why he was swerving. Rea said he did not have a clear memory of the event, but said he believes he gave Morang a verbal warning because that’s what he always does when he does not write a ticket.

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