EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Haverhill

June 7, 2012

Through tears, lessons learned from state's first fatal texting-while-driving case

HAVERHILL — As court officers led 18-year-old Aaron Deveau out of a courtroom in handcuffs to begin serving a year in jail, his father, mother, grandmother and other family members wept. So did members of Donald Bowley Jr.'s family.

"There are no winners today," Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett said yesterday in a statement following Deveau's conviction. "A beloved grandfather is dead. A once active woman can no longer work and is still racked with pain from her injuries and a young man is going to jail."

In the first case of its kind in Massachusetts, Deveau, of 57 Beach St., was found guilty of violating a relatively new law that bans drivers from texting while driving. He was also found guilty of motor vehicle homicide.

During the four-day trial, Prosecutor Ashlee Logan proved that on Feb. 20, 2011, due to his negligence, Deveau crossed the yellow center lines on River Street near Cliff Avenue and crashed into an oncoming car driven by Donald Bowley Jr., 56, of 141 Sandown Road, Danville, N.H. Bowley's girlfriend, Luz Roman, 58, of Haverhill was a passenger in the car. Bowley and Roman were taken to Lawrence General Hospital and later airlifted to Massachusetts General Hospital, where Bowley died on March 10 as a result of the injuries sustained in the crash, Blodgett said.

Logan also proved that Deveau was texting while driving negligently and caused injury to Roman.

"This charge was one of several created by the texting law that took effect on Sept. 30, 2010," Blodgett said. "That law defines texting as manually composing, sending or reading an electronic message."

He said the law makes it a crime to negligently drive while texting and causing injury and is punishable by up to 2 years in the House of Correction.

Abany sentenced Deveau to 2 1/2 years in the House of Correction on the motor vehicle homicide charge and two years on the texting and causing injury charge. Blodgett said Deveau will serve one year concurrently on both charges. The balance of both charges were suspended for five years.

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