PARIS — The manslaughter trial of Kristina Lowe will be held in Oxford County Superior Court in South Paris, less than 15 miles from the deadly crash she is accused of causing more than two years ago.

Active-retired Justice Robert Clifford, in an order filed Thursday afternoon, denied the motion to transfer the case to another county. The request was filed in December by Lowe’s attorney, James Howaniec.

Lowe, 21, faces two counts of manslaughter, two counts of operating under the influence causing death, and one count of aggravated leaving the scene of an accident. She pleaded not guilty to the charges in June 2012.

Prosecutors say Lowe was the driver in a January 2012 car crash on Route 219 in West Paris that killed passengers Rebecca Mason, 16, of West Paris and Logan Dam, 19, of Norway. Lowe is accused of being drunk and texting on a cellphone at a time of the crash. 

Lowe, who had an Oxford address at the time, and passenger Jacob Skaff, 22, of Paris, were severely injured in the accident.

Lowe is due to appear in Superior Court on May 8 for a report on the status of the case. Jury selection is scheduled May 14.

In his motion to move the trial out of Oxford County, Howaniec argued there was a “substantial risk” that the court would be unable to seat an impartial jury, considering the media exposure the case has gathered and possible conflicts of interest between jurors and the 60 or more witnesses who may be called to testify.

He requested the case be moved to neighboring Androscoggin or Cumberland counties.

In a new motion filed Thursday, Howaniec asked the court to accept the appointment of veteran Lewiston defense attorney George Hess to assist in jury selection, arguing that the prosecution has “substantially greater” resources to litigate the case.

In an interview Thursday, Howaniec said he has also filed motions to appoint attorney Chelsea Peters to Lowe’s defense team and to retain the assistance of Celeste Daly, a jury selection consultant.

Howaniec said Lowe’s ability to get an impartial jury in Oxford County remains a “major” concern.

I’m really skeptical that there isn’t going to be some conflicts between witnesses and the potential juror pool,” he said.

A plea deal offered by the District Attorney’s Office last month was “not acceptable” to his client and the defense team is committed to going to trial, Howaniec said.

Contacted at his office in South Paris, Assistant District Attorney Richard Beauchesne would not comment on Clifford’s order or on Howaniec’s new motion.

In October 2013, the Maine Supreme Court upheld a lower court decision suppressing statements Lowe made to Maine State Police investigators while she was recovering from her injuries at Maine Medical Center in Portland the night of the accident.

Howaniec said there is no evidence Lowe was intoxicated or texting at the time of the crash. Other motions filed by Howaniec to exclude state’s evidence in the case were denied by Clifford following a contentious hearing in late February.

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