BANGOR – A Bangor man convicted of drunken driving when he killed a Lewiston teenager in 1996 pleaded guilty Wednesday in Penobscot County Superior Court to new drunken driving charges.

Daniel Asselin, 38, pleaded guilty before Superior Court Justice Kirk Studstrup to operating after revocation and operating under the influence of intoxicants.

Studstrup continued the case for sentencing so that a presentence report can be prepared and Asselin can receive medical treatment for a slipped disc.

A plea agreement between the Penobscot County district attorney’s office and defense attorney Stephen Smith of Bangor recommends that Asselin be sentenced to a maximum of four years in prison.

He faces a maximum sentence of six years, one year on the OUI charge and five years for operating after revocation.

Asselin was pulled over in May 2004 after he allegedly squealed his tires on Hammond Street and drifted over the centerline.

Police said Asselin smelled of alcohol and failed field sobriety tests.

A breath test administered later showed his blood-alcohol content was 0.29 percent, nearly four times the legal limit.

Smith told the court that since his arrest, Asselin has complied with bail conditions, which include not drinking, and has altered his behavior dramatically. The attorney also pointed out that Asselin now has a child.

The defendant’s wife and infant son were in the courtroom Wednesday.

Asselin pleaded guilty to the charges in April, but later withdrew his pleas when a judge rejected the state’s sentencing recommendation, which called for Asselin to be sentenced to five years in prison with all but two suspended. Superior Court Justice Jeffrey Hjelm rejected the agreement, saying it was too lenient.

The case was delayed again last month when Justice Andrew Mead allowed the defendant’s previous attorney to withdraw from the case.

The new plea agreement reflects Hjelm’s opinion that Asselin should serve four years due to his record, Penobscot County Assistant District Attorney Patrick Larson said Wednesday after Asselin changed his pleas to guilty.

In 1996, Asselin was driving with a blood-alcohol content of 0.21 percent when he struck and fatally injured Mark Blanchette, 18, of Lewiston, on Webster Street in Lewiston. Blanchette died of his injuries the next day.

Asselin was later charged with manslaughter in that case, but he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of aggravated drunken driving and served four years in prison.

He had been forbidden to drive for more than nine years before the 1996 accident because of numerous previous convictions, including driving while intoxicated, driving without a license and speeding.

Blanchette’s uncle, Daniel Knowlton, 53, of Lewiston, expressed frustration that Asselin’s sentencing had been continued after the hearing.

“Our family is just devastated,” he said. “This continuation is just another stalling tactic. … Our hurt is still being revictimized. If he were a man, he’d admit his guilt and serve his time.”


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