PORTLAND (AP) – A St. Joseph’s College student has been handed a 15-month jail term for causing a high-speed car crash that left one classmate dead and another injured.

Police say Luke Chouinard, 19, was driving at twice the 40 mph speed limit when he lost control of the vehicle around a dangerous curve on Route 114 in Naples on Aug. 28, 2003.

The crash killed John Queenan, a 19-year-old classmate from Hooksett, N.H., and injured Kyle Rennick, 18, of Beverly, Mass. Both, like Chouinard, were about to start school as freshmen.

A Cumberland County Superior Court jury last month convicted Chouinard of manslaughter, reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon and criminal speeding.

He was sentenced Friday to a maximum term of five years, with all but 15 months suspended, and six years of probation.

The sentence was about half of what the prosecution sought for Chouinard, who has continued to study at Saint Joseph’s.

Justice Robert E. Crowley said Chouinard’s conduct had been “egregious” and worthy of a significant sentence, but he was also impressed by Chouinard’s clean criminal record and strong support from the college community.

Crowley structured the sentence so it could be served at the Cumberland County Jail instead of a state prison. At the jail, Chouinard will be eligible for work release and other programs after about nine months, his attorney said.

Queenan’s father, also named John, said he and his family were not looking for revenge against Chouinard. The ability to talk about his only child in a public forum was more important to him than the length of the sentence Chouinard received, Queenan said.

“I think, in the final analysis, that’s really not that important a factor in all of this,” Queenan said. “If one person reads about the accounts and outcome of this trial and thinks before driving too fast, then John’s death will not be totally in vain.”

When it was his turn to speak, Chouinard turned to the Queenans and apologized, his first expression of remorse to the family. His attorney had advised him to avoid contact with them while the case was pending.

Chouinard’s father, Charles Chouinard of Oxford, said Friday that his son plans to appeal the conviction.



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