EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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December 23, 2012

Woman jailed for driving death moved to 'sober house'

Pinned Haverhill woman between vehicles, killing her

HAVERHILL — Bill LaPierre drew deeply on his faith in God and forgave the woman who violently took his beloved wife of 37 years from him, their family and the community she devoted her life to helping.

The court system wasn’t so forgiving, even after Lisa Leavitt stepped forward and accepted responsibility for the woman’s death.

At a hearing in Haverhill District Court in March, Leavitt chose to plead guilty to the crime she was charged with — motor vehicle homicide while operating under the influence of alcohol.

Leavitt didn’t want a plea deal or a trial. She just wanted to be punished for striking Karen LaPierre with her car as the 63-year-old church volunteer was loading doughnuts into her own vehicle early on a Sunday morning. The doughnuts were to be served after Mass at LaPierre’s parish, Sacred Hearts Church. Leavitt received the maximum sentence of 2 1/2 years behind bars, and began serving her sentence at the women’s prison in Framingham.

On April 17, Leavitt was transferred to a minimum security pre-release facility for women in Salisbury, according to Maurice Pratt, a spokesman for the Essex County Sheriff’s Department. He said the Women in Transition facility is for non-violent offenders with minimum criminal history.

On Dec. 17, Leavitt, 38, was transferred to a local “sober house” as part of the WIT program and wears an electronic monitoring bracelet, Pratt said.

He said Leavitt is living in a structured environment where she must take part in programs such as substance abuse classes, group counseling sessions and a work release program.

“It’s a very structured environment that is vital to the reintegration process by helping inmates adjust to living in the community,” Pratt said.

Pratt would not discuss when Leavitt is expected to be released from the program. He said inmates who are in the program are typically allowed to work 20 to 25 hours a week. They receive a certain amount in spending money, and part of their income goes to rent and program fees, he said.

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