Samuel Goldberg has been a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney for 20 years. Prior to that, he was a New York state prosecutor. He has published various articles regarding the practice of criminal law and frequently provides legal analysis on radio and television, appearing on outlets such as the Fox News Channel, Court TV, MSNBC and The BBC Network. To speak to Sam about a criminal matter call (617) 492 3000.

ALLEGED HAVERHILL DRUNK DRIVER FACES VEHICULAR HOMICIDE CHARGES AFTER CRASHING INTO LOCAL GOOD SAMARITAN

On Monday, we discussed a number of recent motor vehicle accidents which took place over the past week in Massachusetts. Today, we focus on one of them.

It has all the makings of a scene from a very sad movie.

Lisa Leavitt (hereinafter, the “Defendant”) leaves a Christmas party in her own home. Lisa, a young dental assistant, gets behind the wheel. Her blood alcohol level is allegedly twice the legal limit.

Meanwhile, not too far away, Haverhill’s Karen LaPierre, (hereinafter, the “Deceased”) a 63-year-old woman many in the neighborhood regard as a “saint”, is picking up doughnuts for her church.

Allegedly speeding, the Defendant’s vehicle smashes into the back of the Deceased. The Deceased dies in her husband’s arms, her last words telling him that she loves him.

The Defendant is arrested on the scene. It turns out she has no prior record, which would include previous motor vehicle crimes. Only a couple of civil infractions.

Her entry into the criminal justice system is on a major charge…motor vehicle homicide while driving drunk.

“It was a brutal end,” Essex Assistant District Attorney John DePaulo said in Haverhill District Court Monday when the Defendant pleaded not guilty to the charge. Bail was set at $50,000 cash by Judge Patricia Dowling.

A brutal end for the Deceased. A brutal beginning for the Defendant, sobbing in the courtroom, her life forever changed as well. Prior to the accident, she had been treated for depression. Things are not likely to get better now.

Of course, she did not do herself any favors as she opted to continue her run of bad judgment allegedly telling the police, ” I don’t care what happens, just as long as I don’t lose my home. ”

Should the Defendant make bail, she will be required to wear a GPS monitoring bracelet and be tested for alcohol use in her home.

Attorney Sam’s Take Massachusetts Vehicular Homicide

Having had the experience of handling Vehicular Homicide cases, I can tell you that it is one of the saddest types of cases out there. There are no clear villains…albeit usually plenty of bad judgment. Often, as is perhaps the situation here, that bad judgment is related to emotional issues or substance abuse. It is not always about someone who was sloshing them back in abject celebration and then skipping happy-go-lucky to their car simply throwing any semblance of responsibility to the wind

“Actually, Sam, couldn’t the fact that she was on medication for her depression be a defense for the Defendant in this case?”

Not likely. You are not supposed to drive under the influence of anything. Further, it is likely that the mixture of alcohol and her medication made the situation worse. This is why there is a warning on most of such pill bottles that the two are not to be mixed. Further, her blood alcohol level was illegally high for driving.

“Does that mean that she took the breathalyzer?”

No, not necessarily. This could be the result of a blood test taken while she was receiving medical treatment…assuming she was given such treatment. It is not clear here and she was clearly not hospitalized because she was in court the very next day.

“Was it a mistake for her to make a statement to police?”

Only very much so. First of all, under such a circumstance, one has to wonder what there really is to say to law enforcement unless you are hoping to add to your sudden rather substantial troubles. A person is dead and you crashed into them.

The police have you and you know that you had something to drink. Further, if you are going to make some kind of statement for whatever reason…it is not generally a good idea to speak about your own concerns, such as losing property.

Folks tend not to be too sympathetic to your plight.

“Well…is she likely to lose her property?”

That could very well be the result of a civil lawsuit brought by the family of the Deceased. My concentration is the criminal actions.

It’s the opposite problem in that venue. The Defendant has to worry about her more immediate housing…involuntarily in a house of correction now, and state prison potentially after the case ends.

To view the article upon which this blog is based, please go to http://www.boston.com/Boston/metrodesk/2011/12/haverhill-woman-sobs-she-pleads-not-guilty-fatal-drunk-drive-crash/47FUxZH6oSKSmdAAzWt4fL/index.html?p1=News_links

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