PARIS — A lawyer for Kristina Lowe has filed a motion for a testimonial hearing in an initial appeal of guilty verdicts on two counts of manslaughter in a high-speed crash that killed two teenagers in 2012. 

Lowe, 21, of Oxford also was found guilty May 22 of leaving the scene of an accident. A jury found her not guilty of two counts of aggravated operating under the influence.

Lowe was charged with five felony counts in the deaths of Rebecca Mason, 16, and Logan Dam, 19, both of West Paris, in a fatal accident on Jan. 7, 2012, on Route 219 in West Paris. 

Lowe is free on $50,000 unsecured bail until sentencing, which had not yet been scheduled.

Shortly following the trial, defense lawyer James Howaniec said he intended to appeal the “confusing” verdict. On June 4, he filed for an acquittal and a mistrial with Oxford County Superior Court on the basis that the state failed to prove Lowe was texting and speeding during the crash.

“The theory behind our motion is the verdicts were inconsistent,” Howaniec said. 

In the motion for acquittal, Howaniec argues that the jury did not find alcohol or marijuana impairment relevant to the manslaughter convictions and that the state had not proven Lowe had been texting and speeding.

According to the motion, a forensic cellphone expert was unable to determine whether Lowe, whom a witness said was driving, had received or sent a text message in the moments prior to the crash. 

Howaniec noted that front-seat passenger Jacob Skaff testified he didn’t hear or see an incoming text message, and the “highly prejudicial” testimony from Earl Lowe, the defendant’s father, never mentioned she had read a text message. 

Her father testified that he heard his daughter tell a Maine State Police trooper that she had been texting. He testified that his daughter reached down for her cellphone, that the vehicle began to drift, and Dam, who was sitting in the back seat, had reached over the seat and tried to correct the car’s course. 

Howaniec said there was no evidence in Trooper Lauren Edstrom’s testimony that Lowe’s father was in the room when his daughter made these statements, and therefore he could not possibly have heard them.

Though the state was unable to convince a jury that Lowe was impaired by alcohol or drugs at the time of the crash, Howaniec said witnesses who testified Lowe was drinking at a party before the crash “inflamed” an emotional response from jurors to find her “guilty of something” unsubstantiated by evidence. 

State prosecutors never alleged Lowe was engaged in criminal activity when she was speeding, and a civil penalty would, at worst, amount to a fine, he said. 

The state’s response argued that Lowe’s combination of texting and speeding led the jury to a “rational” guilty verdict. 

According to the state, the fact that Lowe received a text message was corroborated by the time stamp on the last message on her cellphone after she had left The Big Apple store in West Paris moments before the crash. 

Assistant District Attorney Richard Beauchesne wrote that Earl Lowe’s testimony was substantiated by police testimony, and that characterizing Lowe’s testimony as “prejudicial” was libelous. 

Beauchesne said Kristina Lowe’s mother, Melissa Stanley, who was with her daughter at Maine Medical Center in Portland just before Lowe’s statement was audiotaped by police, was not called by the defense to testify when she could have presumably “exposed Mr. Lowe’s false testimony.” 

He said a legal precedent for manslaughter convictions exists in cases in which a driver is distracted while driving slightly over the speed limit.

A hearing is not expected for another month as the court prepares a transcript of the trial. A pretrial conference to lay out both sides and identify witnesses will likely be scheduled before that, Howaniec said. 


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