EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

November 15, 2012

Sentence in accident case brings outrage

Family of victim, 19, wanted driver indicted

SALEM — Dillon Renard’s grandfather knows all too well the perils of drinking and driving. In his youth, he recalled, he’d once done it — and nearly killed his best friend when he lost control of his car and struck a utility pole. He’d learned a lesson, Ron Bovio told a Salem District Court judge.

Bovio, sober nearly four decades, went to court yesterday knowing that nothing he said would bring back his grandson, killed last June when the driver of the car Renard was riding in slammed into the back of a flatbed tow truck on Boston Street in Salem.

“I pray all the young people here today embrace the fact that they could be the next defendant or the next victim,” said Bovio, of Peabody. “If just one young person learns from this tragedy, then Dillon will not have died in vain.”

But Bovio’s message was quickly overshadowed by that of other relatives, including his daughter Cherie Rubner, who lashed out at Judge Michael Lauranzano yesterday.

Rubner, Renard’s mother, and other relatives were furious that Angelique Griffin, 25, of Salem, received a sentence that makes her eligible for parole as soon as next June. They had been pushing for a grand jury indictment, which could have allowed prosecutors to seek a sentence of up to 15 years in state prison after trial.

Rubner, who sobbed throughout the hearing, and others were escorted out of the courtroom by court officers after she launched into a profane tirade against the court system, the judge and Griffin. Others joined in, directing their fury at Griffin, whom they referred to with vulgarities and seemingly threatened.

“We’ll get you,” one woman shouted.

“You’re gonna die,” yelled another.

Griffin pleaded guilty to a charge of motor vehicle homicide while driving drunk and, under the terms of a plea agreement negotiated by her attorney and the district attorney’s office, received a 21/2-year jail term. She was ordered to serve two years of the sentence but will become eligible for parole after she completes one year at MCI-Framingham.

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