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Six fined for roles in drinking death of Orono teen

The six were charged with hosting a party that led to the death of Alexie Adams last year.

Six young men will pay fines for providing a place for underage drinking in Orono on the night that a 19-year-old woman died from acute intoxication and hypothermia.

A passer-by found Alexie Adams’ body in a snowbank on the morning of Feb. 3, 2018. The state medical examiner said alcohol, cocaine and cold caused her accidental death. An investigation resulted in criminal charges for the defendants, who hosted parties that Adams attended that night.

None of the men were convicted of directly causing the Orono teenager’s death, however. The misdemeanor charge specifically stated that each defendant allowed a minor in a place under his control to possess or consume liquor. All six pleaded guilty last Thursday(Jan. 3)  at the Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor.

Superior Court Justice William Anderson imposed a fine on each man ranging from $500 to $1,750. In four of the six cases, he also ordered 50 hours of community service.

“Our goal with this case was to communicate to the student population that they need to be very cautious about throwing parties, even if they are of age,” Deputy District Attorney Devon DeMarco said in an interview Thursday. “And if you do throw a party where alcohol is served to underage people, you run the risk of a potential criminal conviction, as well as the result that somebody can be seriously injured.”

A spokeswoman for the University of Maine in Orono said the six men are all current or former students, but Adams was not enrolled there. The defendants were Blake Bickford, Trevor Carter, Christopher Dionne, Ethan Smith, Tristan Harvie and Matthew Greenlaw.

“It is horribly sad that a young woman lost her life after a college party,” attorney David Bate, who represented Dionne, wrote in an email. “Everyone involved in these criminal cases hopes that young adults hear about this case and closely examine what the judge referred to as a sometimes cavalier attitude toward the dangers of alcohol and drugs. The judge reviewed the evidence presented by the state and multiple defense counsel and determined that there was no proof of a causal connection between the defendants’ conduct and the death. Justice was done. However, the resounding message is not that these defendants got off easy, but that a young woman need not have died and that was an unnecessary tragedy.”

An obituary in the Bangor Daily News described Adams as “a natural thespian” who loved the stage and dreamed of becoming an actress. She grew up in California and moved to Maine with a relative when she turned 18. After she graduated from Bangor High School, she got a job as an optician.

“Alexie could have been anything she wanted to be if she had been given the time,” the obituary said.

DeMarco said Adams attended social gatherings in three separate places on Feb. 2. At the end of the night, a designated driver tried to bring her home but dropped her off at the wrong address.

“It’s believed that as she was trying to walk home, she stumbled in the snow and never got back up,” DeMarco said.

The prosecutor said the amount of the fines was based on the size of the party and the amount of alcohol Adams is believed to have consumed there. Greenlaw hosted the first gathering, and his sentence is a $500 fine. His attorney, Fred Costlow, said he appreciated that the judge considered each defendant individually, because Adams was only at Greenlaw’s apartment for a short time and drank less than one beer there.

DeMarco said the host of the second party was Bickford, who received a $1,000 fine. His attorney, Drew Ketterer, said Bickford has also asked three local high schools if he could speak to students about the unintended consequences of underage drinking.

The four remaining defendants were the hosts of the third party, DeMarco said. Carter, Dionne and Harvie received a fine of $1,500 each. Smith received a $1,750 fine. All are required to perform 50 hours of community service.

Attorneys for Harvie and Smith declined to comment or did not respond Thursday. Jeff Silverstein, who represented Carter, said his client tried to help Adams get home safely with the designated driver and on Thursday apologized to her family in court.

DeMarco said the young woman’s father made a statement in court Thursday about the impact her loss has had on the family.

“I think the family was appreciative that this case brought them some closure and they really hope this never happens to anyone again,” she said.

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