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Haverhill

September 20, 2013

City man bound for prison term for DWI crash

Was driving 59 in 30 mph zone, couple badly injured

HAVERHILL — A city man was sentenced to five to seven years in prison yesterday, after he was found guilty of drunken driving and causing serious injury.

William Copeland, 58, of Haverhill was found guilty of operating under the influence and causing serious bodily injury to persons over 60 by an Essex Superior Court jury yesterday following his trial in Salem Superior Court.

According to press release issued by the Essex District Attorney’s Office, Judge Timothy Feeley sentenced Copeland to five to seven years in state prison, to be served. The jury returned the verdict after deliberating for about four hours.

Copeland was convicted of two counts of operating under the influence of alcohol and causing serious bodily injury and two counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon on a person over 60 years old.

Essex Assistant District Attorney Janelle Amadon proved that on Dec. 24, 2011, Copeland was under the influence of alcohol while driving his 2005 Ford F-150 pickup truck north on North Broadway. His truck struck a utility pole and then crossed the center yellow line, crashing head-on into a Ford Explorer. Police said the occupants of the Explorer — James Foley, 63, and Carol Foley, 65, both of Sandown, N.H. — received serious, but non-life-threatening injuries.

Copeland’s injuries were extensive, and included three fractured vertebrae, a shattered left knee, femur and tibia, a broken right leg femur, three fractured ribs, a lacerated forehead and a bruised liver.

Police said both vehicles received front-end damage in the crash, which was reported at 2:05 p.m., and that a state police accident reconstruction team assisted in the investigation.

Copeland was represented by Attorney Jawara Griffin and was taken into custody following the sentencing.

Amadon told the Salem Superior Court jury in opening statement that “The evidence speaks for itself,” listing the details, including Copeland driving 59 miles per hour in a 30 mph zone, according to the accident reconstruction, the first responders smelling alcohol on him, and a blood sample seized by police with a warrant that showed a blood alcohol level of .11.

Griffin told jurors in his opening statement that the case is about “conduct, crash and curve.” He said Copeland’s friend would testify that before the crash he didn’t see Copeland drinking and didn’t think he was drunk, that “every accident does not have to result in a criminal complaint,” and that the crash was caused by the curve on the road.

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