PARIS — The state rested its case against Kristina Lowe on Tuesday morning after presenting three full days of eyewitness testimony that Lowe was drinking for hours before a fatal accident that killed Oxford Hills teens Rebecca Mason and Logan Dam, and that she told her friends how sorry she was that she had been texting and driving at the time of the crash.

Lowe is on trial in Oxford County Superior Court, facing two charges of vehicular manslaughter, two charges of aggravated criminal operating under the influence and one charge of leaving the scene of a fatal accident. All of the charges are felonies and, if convicted on all counts, Lowe faces more than 60 years in jail.

Her defense attorney, James Howaniec, called three witnesses to the stand Tuesday morning, all medical personnel who treated Lowe in the hours after the accident. Each of the witnesses testified that Lowe seemed to be alert and aware of her surroundings, and none saw any evidence that she was under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

This testimony of a sober Lowe was very different than the testimony previously offered by her friends that she had been drunk and acting loud and silly at the party before the accident, which police believe happened at 12:15 a.m.

The nurse who first treated Lowe at Stephens Memorial Hospital told Howaniec that Lowe spoke clearly and followed directions well while being evaluated in the emergency department there starting at 2:10 a.m.

Erin LaRochelle, a registered nurse and nursing supervisor in the ER when Lowe was brought in, made a note in Lowe’s medical record that Lowe said she had “walked 1.5 miles back to the house to call 911 because she lost her phone in the wreck and her two friends were still in the car.”

Her nursing notes also mentioned that Lowe admitted she had been drinking at the party, but LaRochelle didn’t remember any behavior that she was intoxicated.

Lowe’s blood was drawn to test for alcohol and drug use while she was at Stephens, more than two hours after the accident; the results later showed her blood alcohol content was .04 percent, and she tested positive for marijuana.

Maine Medical Center surgeon Dr. John Thomas also testified Tuesday that he didn’t see any evidence that Lowe was under the influence of alcohol, and further testified that he didn’t think it was a good idea for Lowe to answer questions from police after receiving four doses of morphine and two doses of fentanyl for treatment of pain between 3:05 and 5:35 a.m. on Jan. 7.

The dis-inhibition associated with morphine can affect a person’s thought process, Thomas testified, and “I would not recommend making important decisions under the influence of morphine.”

Later in his testimony, Thomas told the jury that the amount of pain medicine administered to Lowe at Stephens Memorial Hospital, in the ambulance on the way to Maine Med and then at Maine Med would have “affected the reliability” of her responses to police questions.

According to hospital records, Lowe was given the fourth dose of morphine about 18 minutes before she consented to an audiotaped interview with State Police Trooper Lauren Edstrom. During that interview, Lowe could be heard telling Edstrom that she knew she was too drunk to drive because she’d had two shots of Jagermeister, and that Jacob Skaff was driving the car at the time of the crash. But, when Edstrom pressed her multiple times, Lowe said that the two might have changed seats after stopping at the Big Apple in West Paris to buy cigarettes and gas just before the crash.

She asked Edstrom if police would be talking to her friends at a party she had been attending earlier that night at 12 Yeaton Lane in West Paris because she didn’t want to get anyone in trouble. Over three days of trial testimony, seven party-goers testified that they saw Lowe drinking and that her eyes were bloodshot and she was staggering around.

The medical personnel who testified Tuesday said they didn’t see any evidence that Lowe had been drinking, which matches the testimony of other medical personnel who testified last week.

Marjorie Frost, a paramedic who traveled with Lowe on the PACE ambulance during her transport between Stephens and Maine Med, said she asked Lowe’s mother, Melissa Stanley, to sign the consent-to-bill paperwork because Lowe had already been given pain meds and she thought it best for someone other than Lowe to sign.

Then, during the ride, Frost said Lowe didn’t show any signs of intoxication, and other than administering two doses of fentanyl during transport, Frost said “I pretty much let her sleep during the trip.”

During his questioning of Thomas, Howaniec made a strong point that Lowe was an 18-year-old girl, traumatized by a car accident and suffering severe lower back pain when she arrived at Maine Med, and he asked the doctor several times whether her circumstances were too overwhelming, coupled with the high doses of pain med, for her to reliably answer police questions.

Thomas acknowledged that, under the circumstances, Lowe’s judgment could very likely have been affected, and that she would still have been under what he termed the “mind-altering” effects of the fentanyl during the Edstrom interview.

The trial is expected to continue through Wednesday.

This story will be updated.


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