EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

January 25, 2013

Update: Man gets 3 1/2 years for drunken Andover fatal

By Jill Harmacinski
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — SALEM, Mass. - A Haverhill man pleaded guilty today to running down and killing a woman outside the Andover State Police barracks while driving drunk in December of 2010 and must serve three years in jail.

Under a plea agreement, Robert V. Bryant, 52, of 93 Lincolnshire Drive, pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide while drunken driving and attempting to commit a crime, leaving the scene of an accident. As part of the deal, Bryant was not prosecuted for manslaughter and leaving the scene of an accident, offenses he was indicted for after the fatal crash.

Bryant faced 15 years in jail on the vehicular manslaughter charge. On a deal reached between the defense and prosecutors, and approved by Judge John Lu, Bryant will spend 3 1/2 years in jail. He's also subjected to an 18-month suspended sentence for five years, during which he's barred from drinking alcohol. By pleading guilty to vehicular homicide, Bryant faces up to a 15-year loss of his driver's license.

He was driving a Chevy pickup when he mowed down Cynthia Anne Ray, 30, also of Haverhill, as she left the barracks on Route 125 at 3 p.m. on Dec. 12, 2010.

Family members and friends of both Bryant and Ray were in the courtroom in Salem Superior Court today to witness Bryant's plea.

The courtroom was hushed as Bryant told Judge Lu he understood the charges and the fact he was giving up his right to a trial by pleading guilty.

Ray's mother, Katherine Balesteri, said in a victim impact statement that "no sentence will be enough for my baby girl."

A tearful Bryant said he was "truly sorry" for what he did and was led from the courtroom in handcuffs.

Bryant had been free on $10,000 bail since his arrest.

Bryant is a computer executive for a Philadelphia-based company. He is married with four children.

The accident occurred after Ray, of 7 Twin Brooks Circle, went to the barracks to pick up an accident report for her husband, who was involved in a crash earlier that day.

She parked her Toyota Highlander in the barracks' U-shaped driveway. Ray's mother was sitting in the passenger's seat of the Highlander when it was struck. The mother ran to the barracks to get help and did not immediately know her daughter had been hit, according to police.

Troopers found Ray unconscious on the grass and immediately began first aid and called for an ambulance.

A North Andover man who witnessed the accident said he followed Bryant as he drove off.

"Did I hit somebody? A pedestrian? I don't remember doing that," Bryant told Trooper Edward Troy after his arrest.

"Off the record, I (expletive) up," he added, according to Troy's account.

Troy also recalled Bryant smelled of alcohol, his eyes were "glassy and bloodshot" and he was "very unsteady" on his feet as he placed him under arrest.

Initially, Bryant told Troy he had one beer, but later "said that he had a few beers at a friend's house," Troy wrote in his report.