PARIS — A judge has appointed a new attorney to represent a Woodstock man accused of leading police on a motor vehicle chase nearly a year ago through southern Oxford County that left a Portland woman in critical condition.

Ethan Rioux-Poulios shown after he was arrested following a police chase and crash earlier in March. Submitted photo

Verne Paradie, a criminal defense attorney from Lewiston appointed by the court to represent Ethan Rioux-Poulios, 27, who is indigent, told Justice Harold Stewart II in Oxford County Superior Court on Tuesday that his client requested his withdrawal.

“I do believe the relationship has irretrievably broken down,” Paradie said.

Stewart accepted Paradie’s withdrawal and told Rioux-Poulios he would appoint a new lawyer to represent him.

But Stewart cautioned Rioux-Poulios that if he were to ask again for a different court-appointed attorney, Stewart may conclude the defendant isn’t able to work with any attorney offered by the court.

Tuesday’s hearing was scheduled to hear arguments by prosecutors and the defense on whether Rioux-Poulis’ probation should be revoked.


He had been on probation last year for a manslaughter conviction stemming from a 2019 fatal crash in West Paris in which the car he was driving slammed into the back of a vehicle on state Route 26 while fleeing from an Oxford County Sheriff’s Office deputy, killing a 70-year-old man from Norway whose vehicle was propelled into a tree.

Rioux-Poulios fled from the scene and was later located at a home in South Paris.

He was sentenced July 2021 to seven years in prison, with all of that time — except two years — suspended.

Emergency responders work on March 4, 2022, at the scene of a head-on crash on Oxford Street in Paris that left one driver critically injured. One driver stole a vehicle after the crash and led police on a chase, officials say. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

If prosecutors are successful in revoking his probation, he could be ordered to serve some or all of the suspended portion of that sentence, or up to five years.

Stewart ordered Rioux-Poulios continue to be held without bail while a new attorney is assigned to represent him and a new hearing date is scheduled on the probation revocation motion.

In March 2022, police said Rioux-Poulios led them on a chase in the early evening after he was reported to have driven a pickup truck erratically, striking other vehicles on Route 26 in Oxford.


He reportedly turned onto Oxford Street where he continued to pass unsafely then lost control of the truck and slammed into a Ford Escape, causing it to go off the road and into trees.

The driver, Nicole Kumiega, 28, of Portland had to be extricated from her car and flown by helicopter to Maine Medical Center in Portland, where she was listed in critical condition.

Rioux-Poulios, whose truck burst into flames in the crash, fled the scene into nearby woods, stole a vehicle, and drove toward Norway, authorities said.

He led Maine State Police on a high-speed chase from Otisfield to Norway, then Oxford, passing long lines of cars dangerously, authorities said.

He was taken into custody after a state trooper’s cruiser was able to nudge the vehicle driven by Rioux-Poulios off state Route 121 in Oxford, authorities said.

He was indicted in May 2022 by an Oxford County grand jury on nine felonies and three misdemeanors.

The felonies include three counts of aggravated assault, each punishable by up to 30 years in prison, plus three counts of reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon, each punishable by up to five years in prison, and eluding an officer, driving to endanger, and leaving the scene of an accident involving serious bodily injury or death, also punishable by up to five years in prison. The misdemeanors were three counts of driving to endanger.

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