Prosecutor: Driver in fatal crash was drunk

RYAN HUTTON/Staff photo

Selvin Manuel Lima listens in Salem Superior Court on Wednesday as the assistant district attorney lists the injuries he is accused of causing while driving drunk in Lawrence in July. The crash injured four people and killed 11-year-old Taysha Rohena Silva.

SALEM, Mass. — The driver charged in a fatal, head-on crash in Lawrence this summer has been deemed a danger to the community and ordered held without bail by a judge, according to court documents.

Selvin Manuel Lima, 23, of Lawrence was driving drunk and had an open bottle of Hennessy cognac in his car when he crashed into a Honda Civic carrying five people on July 13, authorities said.

Taysha Rohena Silva, 11, of Fitchburg was killed and her mother, sister, cousin and mother's boyfriend were seriously injured in the 5:40 p.m. crash near Winthrop and Parker streets in Lawrence, authorities said.

During a hearing in Salem Superior Court Wednesday, a prosecutor asked that Lima remain held without bail. His defense attorney suggested Lima be released with a GPS monitoring bracelet and alcohol testing.

Judge Jeffrey Karp took the matter under advisement during the hearing. He later issued a ruling deeming Lima a danger and ordering him to remain held without bail at Middleton Jail.

In his ruling, the judge pointed to numerous factors in the case, including allegations Lima was driving drunk with a suspended license, fled from police and struck a car hear-on with five passengers, according to court papers.

Lima also has numerous defaults for failing to come to court on previous criminal charges, the judge wrote in his ruling. In addition, Lima has probation violations on his record, and a civilian witness reported Lima had been arguing and drinking prior to the crash, the judge wrote.

On the evening of the crash, Lima was driving a white 2009 Infiniti G37, his blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit and he had a open bottle of cognac in his car, according to authorities.

Testing revealed Lima’s blood alcohol level was .17, well over the .08 limit under state law, a prosecutor said.

Lima was arraigned last week in Salem Superior Court on charges of manslaughter with a motor vehicle, three counts of operating under the influence causing serious bodily harm, three counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, one count of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon on a child, failure to stop for police, and operating after suspension or revocation of his license.

He was held without bail until Wednesday's hearing, which was scheduled to determine if he is a danger to himself or the community at large.

Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Kirshenbaum spoke of the crash victims during the hearing, noting “the injuries to this family'' are "devastating.”

An 8-year-old sister of the girl killed in the crash suffered traumatic brain injuries in the crash and remains hospitalized, Kirshenbaum said.

The girl's mother, who is 29, suffered extensive leg injuries, Kirshenbaum said. Last week the mother came to Lima’s arraignment using a walker and a back brace, but was not able to attend Wednesday's hearing.

The mother's boyfriend, who is 27, underwent multiple surgeries after the crash, Kirshenbaum said. She said the mother's niece, who is 15, suffered multiple broken bones.

Lima has a 3-year-old child from a previous relationship and a 4-month-old baby with his fiancee, said his defense attorney, William Sullivan.

Sullivan said Lima suffered “significant medical” issues in the crash, including a fractured femur and a shattered knee cap for which “he was hospitalized until just last week.”

Lima also needs to see a psychologist and is on medication for anxiety, Sullivan said.

The next court date in the case is scheduled for Oct. 9.

Follow staff reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter @EagleTribJill.

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