PARIS — A short time after midnight on Jan. 7, 2012, 18-year-old Kristina Lowe was driving east on Route 219 in West Paris and lost control of her car. She crashed her 10-year-old Subaru into a stand of trees, killing her backseat passengers, Rebecca Mason and Logan Dam.

Mason was 16; Dam was 19.

Lowe and Jacob Skaff, a 22-year-old from South Paris who had been sitting in the front passenger seat, left the scene. Lowe walked back to the house where they had been earlier in the evening, attending a party. Police later found Skaff at a relative’s house.

Lowe suffered a broken back and broken nose, among other injuries. When she got back to the party, she told multiple people that she was reading a text at the time of the crash.

Lowe, now 21, will go on trial in Oxford County Superior Court on Wednesday on five felony charges, including two counts of manslaughter, two counts of aggravated operating under the influence and one count of leaving the scene of a fatal accident.

The maximum sentence of the combined charges, if she is convicted, is well over 60 years in prison.


Lowe pleaded not guilty to all of the charges in July 2012, and the time since has been spent resolving arguments about whether a confession she made to police while in the hospital should be admitted at trial, where the trial should be held and what evidence the jury will be allowed to hear.

Lowe’s attorney, James Howaniec, who practices in Lewiston, said Thursday his defense team “believes very strongly in her innocence, and we feel that there’s some substantial issues with the state’s case that we intend to bring up at trial.”

The state intends to prove that Lowe was impaired by alcohol and marijuana in her system when she crashed, was driving 75 mph in a 50 mph zone and was reading a text when she lost control of her car.

According to court documents, Assistant District Attorney Richard Beauchesne also intends to present witness testimony from a number of people who attended the party, including several people who will testify that Lowe was so drunk she struck a tree when she backed out of the driveway as she left to go pick up Mason and Dam and bring them back to the party house on Yeaton Lane in West Paris.

The prosecutor is expected to present evidence that, when Lowe got back to the party after the crash, she was very upset and told four partygoers that all she remembered was that she was “texting and driving” when she crashed. One partygoer will be more specific and has signed a statement that Lowe told her “she had been texting, and Logan (Dam) yelled her name from the back seat and reached over the wheel to swerve from the back seat but was unable to correct” the direction of the car.

Jarrold Mason of West Paris and Deborah Sande of Norway, the father and mother of the deceased passengers, respectively, have each filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Lowe, Skaff and two men who they allege purchased alcohol for the partygoers.


Jesiah Sande, who hosted the party, had also been named in the suits, but the court has since removed him as a defendant.

In court on Thursday, Beauchesne and Howaniec met with Active-Retired Justice Robert Clifford, who will preside over the trial, to discuss some final pretrial motions, including whether the state could admit evidence showing alcohol and marijuana in Lowe’s blood a couple of hours after the accident.

Lowe’s blood alcohol content was taken at 2:30 a.m., a little more than two hours after the crash. Her BAC registered .04 percent, which is under the .08 percent alcohol-impairment standard.

The positive test for marijuana, processed by the Maine Health and Environmental Testing Laboratory, was taken about the same time.

Howaniec filed a motion in December to have that evidence excluded, arguing the alcohol consumption was immaterial since Lowe’s BAC wasn’t over the legal limit. But he withdrew the motion Thursday after the state agreed its experts would not present what is called an “extrapolation” explanation, using the actual blood test results to estimate what Lowe’s BAC and marijuana levels may have been at the time of the crash.

Howaniec had argued that since Lowe’s BAC wasn’t over the legal limit, she had not taken a field sobriety test and the accident reconstructionist did not believe alcohol had been a factor in the crash, the BAC was immaterial. And, he argued, there is a serious risk that, because Lowe was 18 years old at the time of the crash, “a jury would confuse the state’s zero tolerance law for drivers under the age of 21 with the 0.08 standard” considered for charges of manslaughter and aggravated OUI.


The state argued the evidence of drinking was greater than the BAC level, including Lowe’s own admissions that she was “too drunk to drive,” that she told a police officer she’d had “five shots of Jager” and testimony of people who attended the party who saw her drinking “in the hours and minutes leading up to the fatal crash.”

Last month, Howaniec’s request to move the trial either to Androscoggin or Cumberland County was denied by the court. He had argued that it was highly unlikely an impartial jury could be seated in Oxford County given the media attention the case has garnered and because the “community has been heavily impacted emotionally by the deaths of Logan Dam and Rebecca Mason.”

Earlier this year, Howaniec filed a motion to bar Rebecca Mason’s father from the courthouse during the trial because the man has threatened Lowe and created disturbances in the courtroom during two previous hearings. Howaniec argued that Lowe “is very intimidated and fearful in Mr. Mason’s presence,” and his behavior may unfairly influence the jury.

That motion was denied, but the court will limit Jarrold Mason’s movement in the courtroom and has assigned extra security to monitor his presence there.

Howaniec also asked the court to issue a gag order, barring anyone associated with the case — including family members — from talking with the media. That motion was also denied.

Howaniec’s motions to exclude or redact the state police collision reconstruction report to eliminate any reference to Lowe’s alcohol consumption, and to exclude evidence of distracted driving, including any evidence that Lowe was reading a text at the time of the crash, were also denied in February.


A statement that Lowe made to a police officer at Maine Medical Center in Portland about her role in the accident has been suppressed.

Howaniec argued that Lowe’s statement was made to a Maine state trooper without the required Miranda warning. The Superior Court agreed, and the state appealed that ruling to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. In October, the Supreme Court upheld the lower court’s ruling to suppress Lowe’s statements to the officer.

The jury will be allowed to hear about statements Lowe made to others about the crash.

During Thursday’s pretrial conference, Lowe appeared calm as she sat by herself in the courtroom.

Howaniec said later that his client “is nervously looking forward to resolving this case” and has been uncomplaining about the legal process that has now stretched more than two years.

Lowe, a graduate of Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School, is a nursing student at Central Maine Community College.


“Her entire life has been shattered by this experience,” Howaniec said, but since her arrest she has complied with all of her bail conditions and has been very involved in her defense.

“I’ve really admired how she’s handled it up to this point,” he said, particularly since “she’s really received a lot of attention that hasn’t been pleasant,” including a number of threats.

When the trial convenes Wednesday, there will be increased security in and around the Oxford County Courthouse, including inside the courtroom.

The combined witness and expert lists for the defense and prosecution tops 60 people. The witnesses will all be sequestered, with the exception of Lowe’s mother. Although she is a witness, she will be allowed in the courtroom during the trial.

The trial is expected to take three weeks.

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