Turner man in hit-and-run to serve two years in prison


AUBURN — A Turner man is expected to serve two years in prison after pleading guilty in a hit-and-run that nearly cost the victim his foot.

Joseph P. Dehetre, 30, of 89 East Hebron Road was sentenced Friday in Androscoggin County Superior Court to five years in prison with three years suspended. Once released from prison, he’ll be on probation for three years.

Dehetre pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and leaving the scene of an accident, both felonies. The negotiated agreement came on the heels of a two-day trial in November, shortly before the jury was given instruction for deliberations. Two of the 14 jurors had been excused and a third was about to be dismissed when the plea deal was reached.

That deal capped his sentence at eight years in prison with all but four years suspended. That’s the sentence Deputy District Attorney Andrew Robinson proposed Friday.

Had no cap been reached, Dehetre would have faced a sentence of up to 15 years in prison on the two charges.

Dehetre’s attorney, William Maselli, argued for a prison sentence of two or three years with all suspended except for the three-and-a-half months he’s been in jail.

Bret Martel was 28 years old and living in Auburn when he was hit in July 2012 by a 1992 Honda driven by Dehetre near the intersection of Parker and Summer streets in Auburn.

A witness to the incident said Dehetre tried twice to run down Martel without success. He tried one more time and ran down Martel in the roadway. With the victim down in the street, Dehetre drove away, according to the witness. Dehetre was arrested a short time later at a home in Minot.

Martel limped to the microphone at the front of the courtroom on Friday. He told the judge that he’s been in “a lot of pain” since spending “significant” time in the hospital, where he nearly lost his foot. Martel said he used to be active in sports, but can’t participate anymore.

Of Dehetre, Martel said: “I don’t see any redeeming qualities” and noted that Dehetre hasn’t shown remorse for his actions.

Martel’s mother, Danelle, asked the judge to sentence Dehetre to the maximum allowable time in prison. She said she didn’t hate Dehetre, but hated his behavior.

Dehetre apologized to Martel and his family and asked the judge for a second chance at life.

His mother said the defendant and victim had been childhood friends who’d had a falling out. She said her son was a good person whose drug addiction caused him to act irrationally.

“He was an addict, not a bad person,” Dehetre’s mother said.

Justice MaryGay Kennedy said Dehetre tried to solve an argument with a “several-thousand-pound weapon,” a “very serious action.”

But she said Martel wasn’t blameless and bore some responsibility.

“Mr. Martel, you did have a part in this,” she said. The difference is that Dehetre had a car at his disposal to use as a weapon.

“To suggest that you were an innocent bystander is not true either,” she told Martel.

Although Dehetre had a serious drug problem, Kennedy said it did not excuse his conduct.

With apparently strong family support, Dehetre has a better chance of turning his life around, Kennedy said.

Kennedy also ordered Dehetre to pay $1,000 restitution to Martel, who owes money for hospital bills despite being on MaineCare, according to Robinson.

Besides the two charges to which Dehetre pleaded guilty, he faced four other charges, including elevated aggravated assault. On that charge alone, Dehetre could have served up to 30 years in prison had he been found guilty at trial.

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