FARMINGTON – A Franklin County Superior Court jury on Thursday acquitted a Lincoln man of manslaughter and aggravated operating under the influence in a crash that killed a co-worker and seriously injured another in 2007.

However, the jury found Ryan Hurd, 23, guilty of aggravated operating under the influence accomplice liability, for allowing another driver to operate his car while intoxicated.

That verdict came after the jury’s initial verdicts of not guilty were accepted by the court and the jury was dismissed.

Hurd’s attorney, Richard Hartley, objected to the court allowing the jury to issue another verdict after Hurd was acquitted of both charges the state had filed against him.

Hurd had admitted to police that he was drunk when his Pontiac Grand Prix crashed and burned beside Route 27 in New Vineyard, but he alleged that he was not driving the car.

Hurd’s defense was that Terry “T.J.” Richardson Jr., 34, of Dover-Foxcroft was behind the wheel when the car went out of control traveling at an estimated 98 mph, struck a utility pole and rolled over in the early-morning hours of Oct. 17, 2007.

Richardson died in the crash.

Chad Bernier of Medway, who was 30 at the time, was trapped in the burning car and suffered serious injuries. Hurd was thrown from the vehicle.

After about a day and a half of deliberations, jurors sent a note to Justice Michaela Murphy at about 3:50 p.m. Thursday saying they were struggling to reach agreement on verdicts.

Murphy brought the jury out and instructed them to go in and try again to reach a verdict as a whole.

At 4:15 p.m., the jury sent word they had reached a verdict.

When the charges were read, the jury forewoman said not guilty to manslaughter and not guilty to aggravated OUI.

Hurd’s mother, Penny Hurd, and girlfriend, Stephanie Johnston, both sitting in the courtroom, made sounds of relief and began to cry.

Murphy released the jury from its duty. She also released Ryan Hurd from any bail. She said she was going into the jury room to thank jurors for their time on the case that spanned six days over a three-week period.

Prior to Murphy going into the jury room, a deputy marshal came out and said that the jury had to see her right away.

After meeting with the jury, Murphy asked to see counselors in chambers. The jury remained sequestered for more than an hour before they were asked back into the courtroom.

Murphy said she had received a note from them and had drawn up a special verdict sheet that listed aggravated OUI and also aggravated OUI accomplice liability. Both charges carry up to five years in prison. The jury was instructed to go back and deliberate and make a decision on those charges.

Once the jury left the courtroom, Murphy explained that jurors had interpreted the OUI accomplice option as a separate charge and would render a verdict on it.

She stressed that the manslaughter acquittal would stand.

After about 10 minutes of deliberations, the jury came back with a guilty verdict on aggravated OUI accomplice liability.

Murphy placed Hurd back on personal recognizance bail with conditions of no possession or use of alcohol or illegal drugs and no contact with Bernier.

Defense lawyer Hartley objected to having bail put on his client who was already discharged. He said he would file post-conviction motions on the case.

Outside the courthouse, Hartley said it had been difficult on the Hurd family, since acquittals were rendered to the two charges filed by the state.

Under the law, there are two theories that a person can be convicted of a crime, either as a principal or as an accomplice, Hartley said.

It is their position, Hartley said, since the jury had already rendered not guilty verdicts and the court dismissed the jury, that they had no authority of the court to further deliberate or to render another verdict, he said.

“It is a very unusual situation,” Hartley said. “I should also say I, in no way, fault the jury.”

[email protected]


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.