John J. Basler, 25 years of age, was working as a state trooper. Today, he is the “Defendant”. He is facing criminal charges in Plymouth for Massachusetts drunk driving. No, not ONLY for drunk driving. You see, he allegedly killed two people.
On September 22nd, the Defendant was involved in a two-car crash that killed a 64-year-old mother and her 23-year-old daughter. Last week, was arraigned in Plymouth District Court.
As one would expect, the Defendant has been suspended without pay from the department, which he joined last year. He is currently charged with operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol and carrying a firearm under the influence of alcohol. One would expect that the vehicular homicide counts will be coming shortly. In the meantime, however, the Commonwealth agreed for him to be released on his own recognizance.
However, he is not allowed to drink alcohol or possess firearms in the meantime. One would imagine that he should not be driving either.
In a Plymouth police report released this week, police said the fatal crash occurred shortly after midnight on September 22nd, when the Defendant was driving to his home in Kingston after attending a party in Wareham. While witnesses at the party indicated that he had only had one beer throughout the night, the Defendant tested a blood alcohol level of 0.19. This is more than twice the legal limit of 0.08, according to the report.
On Federal Furnace Road, the Defendant’s black Toyota Corolla collided with a Dodge Neon driven by Susan Macchi. According to the report, one of the responding officers wrote that Macchi’s vehicle crossed the center line and struck the Defendant’s car.
There were no witnesses, but several people who stopped at the scene after the crash told Plymouth police that heavy rain had broken out in the area several minutes earlier, the police report stated.
When police arrived at the scene, they say they saw the Defendant lying on the ground outside his car . Officers, however, did not believe he had been ejected from the vehicle. The police say that the Defendant indicated that he had no recollection of the crash and that he was employed by the State Police.
Checking the Defendant’s car, Officers found a loaded .45-caliber magazine on the floor of his car and a .45-caliber Auto Ordnance 1911 pistol lying in the bushes a dozen feet from the car, according to the report. While state troopers are issued .45-caliber handguns, the officers indicate that they are not certain whether the one that was found was department-issued.
Either way, of course, it would have been illegal for him to be holding or using it while intoxicated.
Attorney Sam’s Take on Massachusetts Drunk Driving And Vehicular Homicide
“Sam, if there were clearly two deaths resulting from the accident, why hasn’t the Defendant been charged with those deaths right away?”
Accident reconstruction and investigations connected thereto can take a great deal of time. It may be that the authorities have not yet determined whether the Defendant’s driving caused the accident. Remember, Ms. Macchi’s vehicle was said to have crossed the line. One does have to wonder, however, how good that information is when there are no witnesses who recall the accident…including the Defendant.
The Defendant’s lack of memory, of course, is not exactly helpful to him. First of all, it prevents him from now saying that he remembers that this other car crossed the road and smashed right into him. Further, there is that nasty question of whether the memory loss is due to the accident or the alcohol.
“Isn’t the fact of the blood alcohol level absolute proof of an OUI?”
No. It may be considered proof of the presence of alcohol, but it is not technically illegal to drink and drive. What is illegal is driving while under the influence of the alcohol.
“Even if the other driver crossed the line and went into his car, isn’t it evidence that he was under the influence that he was not able to avoid it turning into an accident?”
This…we do not know. That will be for the Commonwealth to decide.
Should the police investigation determine that the Defendant’s impairment in driving caused the accident, I would expect this case to be indicted and the charges of vehicular homicide of some kind to be added.
There are many questions which seem to remain unanswered at this time. This means there are likely to be many issues for defense counsel to address. That is, if said counsel is experienced enough to recognize those issues.
To read the original story upon which this blog is based, please go to http://www.boston.com/metrodesk/2013/10/10/state-police-trooper-pleads-not-guilty-drunken-driving-charge-sept-crash-that-killed-mother-and-daughter/SSeUNOXyLm7GekiB3uqE6O/story.html#sthash.5D7JWAbB.dpuf