PORTLAND — The Maine Supreme Judicial Court on Thursday upheld Kristina Lowe’s manslaughter conviction, ruling there was no error in the trial court’s actions or the jury’s verdict.

Lowe, 22, is expected to turn herself in Wednesday, Sept. 9, to begin serving an 18-month prison sentence.

In January 2012, Lowe, of West Paris, was driving back to an underage drinking party in that town when her car went off Route 219 into trees, killing back-seat passengers Rebecca Mason, 16, and Logan Dam, 19, both of West Paris.

Lowe and her front-seat passenger, Jacob Skaff, 22, of Paris, were injured. Lowe was 18 at the time.

The state said she had been drinking and was distracted by a text at the time of the crash, and that she left the accident scene in West Paris and walked back to the party.

In September 2014, Lowe was sentenced to 18 months in prison after an Oxford County jury found her guilty on two counts of manslaughter and one count of leaving the scene of an accident. The jury found her not guilty of operating under the influence.

Lowe appealed her conviction on several grounds, including that the deaths did not occur as the result of a crime. Her lawyer, James Howaniec, argued that once jurors acquitted Lowe of operating under the influence, no crime was committed.

Howaniec also argued that:

* Lowe should have been allowed to move her trial outside Oxford County because local publicity about the crash and the crash’s impact on the teenagers’ families and Oxford Hills community potentially tainted jurors.

* Lowe’s constitutional rights were violated when her father, Earl Lowe, was allowed to testify that she told him she was drunk and texting. Howaniec said there was no proof Lowe was impaired or had read the incoming text message that appeared on her cellphone moments before the crash.

* The court should not have admitted evidence that marijuana was found in Lowe’s system after the crash because it risked prejudicing the jury against Lowe.

* There was not enough evidence to convict Lowe of either manslaughter or leaving the scene of an accident. 

In its 22-page ruling Thursday, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court said Howaniec’s arguments were not valid and there were no errors in the trial.

“To the contrary, the court adeptly handled a publicized and emotional case and thoughtfully decided the evidentiary issues presented in order to provide Lowe with a fair trial,” the ruling said.  

Howaniec said he had talked with his client Thursday after the court decision. 

“We feel that we fought as hard as we possibly could have on her behalf,” Howaniec said. “We continue to believe that justice was not done in this case. However, we accept the law court’s decision.”

 

STATE OF MAINE v. KRISTINA I. LOWE


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