AUBURN — A local man was sentenced Thursday to two weeks in jail for a 2013 road rage incident witnessed by a local prosecutor who called it one of the worst he’s ever seen.

Adam Getchell, 33, of 224 Lane Road is expected to report to Androscoggin County Jail at the end of June. He will serve the unsuspended portions of his eight-month concurrent sentences on misdemeanor charges of reckless conduct and criminal mischief to which he pleaded guilty Thursday.

Getchell was convicted by a jury in March on a charge of misdemeanor driving to endanger for which he was fined $575 on Thursday and lost his license for a month.

Androscoggin County Superior Court Justice Lance Walker ordered one year of probation and restitution of $1,650 to Timothy Wooten Jr., whose car was damaged in the July 11, 2013, incident.

Walker admonished Getchell for his poor judgment that day by putting motorists at substantial risk of serious bodily injury and urged him to exercise self-discipline, self-restraint and self-control in the future.

“The result could have been dramatically worse,” Walker said.

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“What appears relatively clear to me is that Mr. Getchell, at a minimum, was caught up in the rapture of out-of-control rage and emotion” that sometimes afflicts young men, Walker said.

Prosecutors had sought a sentence of just under a year in jail, with all but six months suspended; defense attorney Matthew Libby said his client should not be given jail time.

Libby said after the hearing that his client was comfortable with the judge’s ruling that came closer to his recommendation.

Wooten, who attended Thursday’s sentencing, said afterward he was disappointed by the outcome.

“After today, I think it’s safe to say I have no faith in the judicial system at all,” he said. “For what he did, to only do 14 days is crazy. I can’t believe it. I’m upset and I’m disappointed.”

Assistant Attorney General Leanne Robbin said Thursday that Androscoggin County Deputy District Attorney James Andrews, who testified he was driving a truck behind Wooten that day, called the incident one of the worst cases of road rage he’d seen in more than two decades as a prosecutor, prompting him to call 911 for the first time in his legal career.

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Robbin said Getchell was not only abusive toward Wooten that day, but also verbally abusive toward the local police officer who arrested Getchell.

She cited Getchell’s poor driving record as well as an earlier, similar incident during which Getchell exited his vehicle and kicked the door of another vehicle in, pressing for her recommended sentence.

Robbin also said Getchell continued to blame the victim for the incident.

In a letter written by Getchell to the court and read aloud by Libby, Getchell apologized for his “poor choices and actions I made” on that day.

At his trial, prosecutors had played a roughly 30-minute audio recording taken from an Auburn Police Department cruiser, in which Getchell, handcuffed in the back seat, indulged in a tirade peppered with racial epithets. Robbin said Thursday she had counted nearly a dozen permutations of the “N-word,” along with other racial slurs and references.

Getchell wrote that the anger he felt that day “led me to saying very hateful, mean and inappropriate words that no one should ever have to hear. Hearing the words I used that day being played in the courtroom at my trial for me and everyone else there to have to sit and listen to was a gut-wrenching moment for me. It made me feel sick and disappointed with myself. I’ve made mistakes and bad choices in my life — but never to this extreme.”

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He said he was sorry Wooten had to hear the recording of his tirade, uttered while he had been alone in the back of the cruiser.

Prosecutors had tried to link those remarks to the road rage incident leading up to his arrest, but the all-white jury of nine women and five men appeared to conclude that Getchell’s cruiser ramblings didn’t match his state of mind while behind the steering wheel of his pickup truck a half-hour earlier when he blocked Wooten, (who is of mixed race) driving an Audi sedan, preventing him from passing him. When Wooten eventually passed Getchell, he apparently swerved at Wooten’s car and hit the rear fender.

At trial, the jury had deadlocked on two felony charges of reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon and aggravated criminal mischief. Each was punishable by up to five years in prison.

At Thursday’s plea and sentencing hearing, prosecutors dismissed those felony charges in exchange for guilty pleas to the misdemeanors.

Getchell wrote that the nearly three-year ordeal has taken a toll on him and his family. His eldest son had asked if he could change his last name “because of people and other kids at school knowing somehow what had been in the newspaper and he started to feel as if he was being treated differently due to the civil rights charge.”

Getchell said he pushed for trial “to prove I am not a racist person.”

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People tell Getchell he has changed since his arrest, he wrote, “and that they like me more now than before.”

Getchell stood in the courtroom Thursday, turned to Wooten and said he wished his apology could mean something.

“I am so, so sorry, Matt,” Getchell said. “I did not ever expect anything like that out of myself.” 

On the first day of the March trial, a local police officer testified that he witnessed Getchell chasing Wooten’s red Audi on foot through the parking lot of George’s Pizza on Center Street on the evening of July 11, 2013. Getchell had been wielding a wooden billy club that Parker ordered him to drop.

Parker arrested Getchell at the scene on a charge of criminal threatening.

Wooten had testified that the road rage incident started in Lewiston and continued across the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bridge into Auburn.

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Deputy District Attorney Andrews described a green pickup truck, later identified as Getchell’s, that cut in front of Wooten’s Audi in the left-turning lane on East Avenue in Lewiston, shortly before the intersection with Russell Street.

Andrews said the truck sped up, then stopped abruptly about half a dozen times along Russell Street. At one point, the truck appeared to be backing up in the direction of the Audi, Andrews said.

The truck would straddle the two lanes in an apparent effort to prevent the Audi from passing, he said.

Once on the bridge, Andrews said both vehicles took off at a high rate of speed. As the car passed the truck in the right lane, the truck veered in the direction of the car and the car appeared to lose control, its rear wheels skidding, Andrews said.

Andrews asked his son, who was a passenger, to write down the truck’s license plate number. Andrews called 911 and reported the “very dangerous situation” he had witnessed.

The jury also listened to Wooten’s 911 call, in which he reported that Getchell’s truck had struck his car when Getchell swerved into Wooten’s lane, causing him to hit his head.

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Wooten said he stayed on his cellphone with the dispatcher, who urged him not to follow Getchell’s truck. When Wooten did follow Getchell into the parking lot of George’s Pizza on Center Street, the dispatcher told Wooten to stay in his car and to roll up his windows. Wooten said he did.

Libby said Thursday that there was no evidence presented at trial that his client had referenced Wooten’s race until after his arrest, proving it was a random case of road rage.

Justice Walker asked Libby whether that made the situation better or worse.

Libby said it was better that his client’s actions weren’t racially motivated.

“He’s never, ever condoned the language he used” after he was put in the cruiser, Libby said.

He presented letters from family members and business associates who vouched for Getchell’s good character.

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Libby said after the hearing that his client’s comments caught on the cruiser’s audio track didn’t reflect his true feelings.

“We believe it’s possible to say things you don’t mean, particularly when you lost control of your emotions,” he said. “I’d like to think that most people can relate to that.”

Despite the jury’s acquittal of Getchell on the hate crime charge, Wooten said after Thursday’s hearing he believes he was targeted for the color of his skin.

“But, not guilty is not guilty,” he said.

The Attorney General’s Office filed suit in Androscoggin County Superior Court for a preliminary injunction. That case is on hold, pending the outcome of a tentative agreement between the two parties on a possible consent order that would bar Getchell from having contact with Wooten and would place restrictions on his movements near Wooten’s home and work.

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