PARIS — A judge has upheld a jury’s conviction of 21-year-old Kristina Lowe on two counts of manslaughter and one count of leaving the scene of an accident.

In a written ruling submitted to the Oxford County Superior Court clerk’s office Monday afternoon, Active-Retired Justice Robert Clifford dismissed motions from Lowe’s defense attorneys for a new trial, mistrial or acquittal.

Defense attorney James Howaniec said he will assess whether to appeal the case to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court after sentencing, which has not been scheduled. Lowe faces up to 30 years in prison on each manslaughter conviction and five years for leaving the scene of an accident.

My client is devastated by Justice Robert Clifford’s ruling. We continue to believe strongly that this case has been a miscarriage of justice and that the venue should have been transferred out of Oxford County,” Howaniec said Tuesday.

In a five-page order, Clifford wrote there was sufficient evidence, including excessive speed, inattention and the presence of alcohol and marijuana in Lowe’s blood, for the jury to have “rationally found that the defendant was guilty of vehicular manslaughter” in the deaths of West Paris teens Logan Dam, 19, and Rebecca Mason, 16, in a car crash on Route 219 in West Paris on Jan. 7, 2012.

In May, a jury found her guilty of manslaughter and leaving the scene of an accident, but dismissed two counts of aggravated operating under the influence.

During the trial, state prosecutors called seven party-goers from a gathering at a home on Yeaton Lane in West Paris who testified that Lowe was drinking half an hour prior to getting into a car with Jacob Skaff and Dam. They also testified Lowe crashed a car while doing doughnuts in the driveway of the house where she and others had gathered for a party, but laughed the incident off. 

The fatal crash happened after they had picked up Mason at her parents’ house as they returned from The Big Apple in West Paris around 12:15 a.m, about a mile from the party. 

In June, the defense motioned for the court to overturn the verdict, arguing that the jury’s rationale was inconsistent, there was no evidence she was impaired at the the time of the crash and that the testimony of her father, Earl Lowe, should not have been permitted.

A blood alcohol test taken hours after the crash showed Lowe, who was 19 at the time, had a blood alcohol content of 0.04 percent, which is below the legal limit of 0.08 percent for operating a motor vehicle. It also found trace amounts of marijuana.

However, Clifford disagreed that the verdicts were inconsistent. The jury, he wrote, was instructed to consider each charge independently. Although Lowe was found not guilty of being impaired by alcohol at the time of the crash, jurors were free to conclude Lowe was guilty of reckless conduct or gross negligence, which are “the requisite states of mind to support a finding of manslaughter.”

During a post-trial hearing on the motions on July 31, the defense argued that Lowe should be granted a new trial due to the inconsistencies in Earl Lowe’s testimony, which the defendant argued had unfairly prejudiced jurors.

At that hearing, testimony from Maine State Police Detective Lauren Edstrom and Kristina’s Lowe’s mother, Melissa Stanley, contradicted statements made by Earl Lowe that Kristina told him, while he was in Edstrom’s and Stanley’s presence, that his daughter said she had looked down at an incoming text message just moments prior to the crash. That information was deemed critical by the defense, because it was essentially the same information on a tape recorder the court had previously suppressed.

In the ruling however, Clifford noted several other witnesses testified Lowe said she glanced down at her phone at the sound of an incoming text message. 

He also noted that the defense had opportunities to interview Earl Lowe prior to trial about his testimony, as well as expose his false testimony during trial.

“The admission of the testimony of Earl Lowe does not require the court to grant a mistrial or a new trial to Kristina Lowe,” Clifford wrote.   

In court documents filed in June, Assistant District Attorneys Richard Beauchesne and Joseph O’Connor recommended concurrent 10-year sentences for each manslaughter charge, with all but five years suspended and four years of probation, and a consecutive sentence of five years, all suspended, with one year of probation for leaving the scene of an accident.

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