AUGUSTA — For a drunken-driving crash that killed one of his friends and severely injured another, a Wayne man will spend the next 59 months behind bars.

That will be followed by four years of probation, while the remainder of the 14-year sentence is suspended.

Tyler J. Goucher, 23, was sentenced Friday during a hearing at the Capital Judicial Center. He had pleaded guilty Nov. 7 to manslaughter and aggravated criminal operating under the influence stemming from the fatal pickup crash May 12, 2017, on North Road in Mount Vernon.

The crash killed Ethan J. Russell, 19, of Wayne and seriously injured Richard J. Hall Jr., now 22, of Mount Vernon. Hall was in the courtroom Friday but did not speak at the hearing.

The prosecutors, Assistant District Attorneys Paul Cavanaugh and Tracy McCarthy, asked Superior Court Justice William Stokes to put Goucher behind bars for an initial eight years, followed by a suspended eight-year term while he spends four years on probation.

Conditions of probation prohibit Goucher from use or possession of alcohol, marijuana, illegal drugs or firearms, and order him to complete a substance abuse evaluation and treatment. They also prohibit him from driving a motor vehicle.


“Mr. Goucher drove that dangerous truck dangerously,” Cavanaugh told the judge on Friday.

He said Goucher made a series of bad decisions before that crash, including deciding to drive drunk and to speed to try to catch up with friends.

He said Russell’s only reason to be out with Goucher and Hall that night was to be the designated driver.

Russell’s mother, Shanna, described her son growing up and told the judge that he has been gone for the past 586 days.

“My son is dead because of Tyler Goucher,” she said.

She talked about the hatred she feels when she sees Goucher in court, “knowing he’ll be free to continue this life when he gets out,” while her son cannot.


Goucher hung his head at the defendant’s table as she read her victim impact statement to the judge.

Both she and the mother of Russell’s girlfriend focused on Goucher’s statement to an officer the night of the crash that he was the most sober.

“Tyler has lied through the whole process, starting with saying, ‘I was the most sober of all,’?” Shanna Russell said.

She said her son was the designated driver, and he drank only water and ate french fries that night.

Goucher addressed the judge briefly, saying he wanted to take the opportunity to apologize.

“The decisions I made that night I’ll carry on my shoulders for the rest of my life,” he said, his words almost inaudible and interrupted by long pauses.


About 100 people watched the sentencing hearing. Many of those sitting in the public area behind the prosecutors’ table wore olive green wristbands bearing the name “Ethan J. Russell” in capital letters.

After the sentencing, Russell’s father, Nathan, said he was pleased with the way the Cavanaugh and McCarthy handled the case and with Stokes’ words. He said initially the family hoped the judge would impose the sentence recommended by the state, but that their feelings evolved and they understood that was unlikely to happen.

At the start of the hearing, the judge said he read more than 30 letters and notes from family members, friends, classmates and teachers of the victims and the defendant. As he imposed the sentence, he referred to them again, telling the families that no sentence could make up for the loss of Ethan Russell or the injuries suffered by Hall.

“This was a tragedy of epic proportions,” Stokes said, adding, “Ethan Russell was the designated driver. This should never have happened.”

Stokes imposed a probation condition that Goucher do four hours of public service work per month after he is released from prison and urged him to do that by speaking to other young people about the dangers of drunken driving.

“You have a message to give that it can happen to them; it happened to you,” Stokes told Goucher directly.


Stokes said he deliberately chose the 59-month prison term so it could be possible for Goucher to serve it at the Maine Correctional Center in Windham rather than at the Maine State Prison in Warren.

Stokes also addressed Hall, who was in the courtroom, saying he hoped he could make a full recovery.

Hall submitted a written statement on Goucher’s behalf, talking about Russell and the friendship among the three young men.

“I know Tyler must feel miserable and scared as I do. We all made mistakes,” Hall wrote. “We did things we’re not proud of and we all made the choice to get in the truck that night.”

He asked that Goucher serve no more than five years.

“He knows what he did and he has to live with that for the rest of his life,” Hall wrote. “We all do.”


When investigators reached the scene of the late-night crash, all three occupants of the Chevy Silverado pickup truck that Goucher had been driving had been ejected; one person was dead and the other two were injured. The truck had “catastrophic damage.” The rear axle and truck bed had broken off from the truck, all the windows were broken, and debris from the truck littered the road.

At the time, Goucher told police the three men had been drinking at a local restaurant and he “was the most sober,” so he was the driver that night, according to an arrest warrant affidavit for Goucher filed by Deputy K. Scott Mills of the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office.

Mills wrote that Goucher told another investigator that they were in his truck “and he was speeding trying to catch up with other friends that left in a different vehicle.”

A document submitted by the state in advance of the change-of-plea hearing listed a summary of events, saying that the three men went to the Weathervane Restaurant in Mount Vernon after work and that Russell was to be the designated driver.

“Goucher and Hall drank Jagermeister shots, Bud Light by the pint, craft beer brewed by Baxter’s by the pint and a well drink known as Grateful Dead,” the summary says.

It shows Goucher’s bar bill of $102 for 18 drinks consumed over a 70-minute timespan. The bartender cut Goucher off.


According to the same document, two blood samples taken from Goucher – one at 11:01 p.m. and a second at the hospital at 12:12 a.m. May 13, 2017 – showed blood-alcohol content of 0.217 percent and 0.202 percent, respectively. The results are about 2½ times the 0.08 blood-alcohol limit for drivers over 21 in Maine.

In October, the judge rejected a defense bid to keep those test results out of Goucher’s trial, which was scheduled for Nov. 8 and 9. Instead, Goucher opted to accept a plea offer.

Goucher’s lawyer, Darrick Banda, sought to suppress the results of two search warrants involving medical records and tests on Goucher’s blood, as well as Goucher’s consent to draw blood while he was in an ambulance at the crash scene.

Russell’s body was found in the middle of the road. The medical examiner concluded Russell died of “blunt force trauma of head and chest.”

Russell had a blood-alcohol content of 0.01 percent, according to the test done at the state medical examiner’s office.

The prosecution says calculations done by investigators resulted in estimated speeds of close to 92 to 94 mph – on a winding road where the speed limit is posted at 45 mph – at the time of the crash, and also that the oversized tires and full suspension lift mean the truck should not have passed inspection in that condition.


“The defendant drove over twice the legal speed limit with over twice the legal limit of alcohol,” McCarthy wrote. “That combination caused the Defendant to have a violent, catastrophic crash, killing one passenger and seriously injuring his other passenger.”

In a presentencing memo, McCarthy wrote that Hall suffered a “ruptured spleen, broken hip, damaged knee, fractured neck, broken wrist and numerous contusions.”

Banda did not submit a presentencing memo. However, he suggested a two-year initial incarceration with an additional eight years suspended while he spends four years on probation. He asked that Goucher be allowed to operate machinery in the woods so he could rejoin the family’s log harvesting business when he is released.

He said Goucher was indeed remorseful and repeatedly expressed to law enforcement his concern for his passengers that night.

Goucher’s convictions also result in an administrative lifetime driver’s license suspension.

Cavanaugh noted that Goucher had no prior criminal record, although he had been convicted for a number of motor vehicle offenses, including speeding.


Tyler Goucher was sentenced to 59 months in jail at Capital Judicial Center in Augusta on Friday. He pleaded guilty Nov. 7 to manslaughter and aggravated criminal operating under the influence stemming from the fatal pickup crash May 12, 2017, on North Road in Mount Vernon. (Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal)

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