BRENTWOOD — A jury yesterday found Maurice Buzzell responsible for the death of an employee, who was killed by a falling tree while working for Buzzell's landscape company.
It took the jury two and a half days to return guilty verdicts on charges of negligent homicide and reckless conduct brought against Buzzell by county prosecutors. Buzzell is the owner of Buzzell Tree Service in East Kingston.
Jon Paul "J.P." LaVigueur of Kingston was killed on Aug. 7, 2007, when a 78-foot pine tree he and a crew were cutting at a Kingston home fell on him as he tried to flee. It was a day before his 23rd birthday.
His father, Paul LaVigueur, said he was pleased to hear the outcome of the trial yesterday.
"He (Buzzell) had to pay for this," LaVigueur said in a phone interview yesterday. "My son is dead."
LaVigueur said he believed "justice was served," but he would never get over the death of his son.
"For the rest of my life, I'll go to bed with tears in my eyes," he said. "I'll never get over it — never."
During the trial, county prosecutors Howard Helrich and Amy Connolly alleged that Buzzell regularly required his employees to remain under trees until they began to fall.
Buzzell first told police he wasn't at the scene when the accident happened, then said he was near his truck in the driveway when it occurred, according to testimony by Kingston police officers.
Buzzell paid $12,500 as part of a settlement with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for violating safety regulations as a result of the accident.
Buzzell's defense attorney, Steve Colella, argued that Buzzell did not require his employees to stand under trees as they were being felled, and that many of the standards Buzzell was allegedly in violation of had nothing to do with LaVigueur's death.
Buzzell now awaits sentencing, which has not yet been scheduled. The charge of negligent homicide could bring a sentence of three to seven years in prison. The reckless conduct charge is a misdemeanor.