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Convicted drunken driver gets 10 to 20 years

Union Leader Correspondent

July 19. 2012 11:38PM
Randall Stewart, 48, of Windham was sentenced to 10 to 20 years in state prison for driving his truck into the opposite lane of traffic on Route 111 in Hampstead and killing a woman and injuring a man. James KIMBLE (JAMES A. KIMBLE/Union Leader Correspondent)

DOVER - Two Salem men, whose lives were changed forever by an intoxicated driver who plowed into their motorcycles, struggled to sum up in court Thursday how widespread their loss has run.

Randall Stewart, 48, of Windham was sentenced to 10 to 20 years in state prison for driving his truck into the opposite lane of traffic on Route 111 in Hampstead and killing Marceline Weaver, 49, of Salem, and causing another motorcyclist, James Sousa, also of Salem, to lose his left leg.

The crash happened on June 26, 2010, during a motorcycle charity ride to honor a Windham police officer, Mark Knight, who died of cancer.

Bill Weaver, who was driving the motorcycle his wife was riding on, said he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the crash and continues to relive the horrific crash that killed his wife.

'The smell of oil, of fuel and the taste of blood will haunt me until the day I die,' he said in a victim impact statement in Strafford County Superior Court in Dover.

Alongside Weaver's motorcycle that day, Sousa went into a skid, causing injuries that eventually led doctors to remove his left leg after he endured 16 operations within 47 days.

The defense called an accident reconstruction expert to the stand on Thursday to suggest Sousa and Weaver could have avoided the crash.

Judge John Lewis said that testimony was largely discredited once the expert acknowledged that he made a mathematical error in his calculations.

Lewis said it will be up to Stewart as to whether he will one day accept responsibility for what he had done.

'You can (either) grab on to what an accident reconstruction expert says, or you can understand that I am the one who crossed over into oncoming traffic and expected people to somehow part like the Red Sea,' Lewis said.

Sousa said the legal maneuvering only added to the pain of the victims and their families.

Both men also spoke about the emotional and financial impacts suffered in the wake of Stewart's driving. Weaver said he is on the brink of losing his and his wife's home.

Sousa said he had to give up his job as a commercial truck driver and learn to pay for thousands of dollars in ongoing medical bills with a lower income.

Lewis ordered a combined restitution of $852,000 - the majority of which goes toward Sousa's medical bills.

Weaver and Sousa have filed civil lawsuits against Stewart as well.

Stewart had been arrested by Pelham police on drunken-driving charges just 12 hours before the fatal crash. He was able to get his sport utility vehicle back and continue driving.

Weaver said New Hampshire should adopt a law similar to what Massachusetts has in place - requiring drunken drivers to be held 48 hours.

'Marcie would still be alive today,' he said, if New Hampshire had a statute like Melanie's Law on its books.

He also hoped the Windham police chief would bring back the charity ride that the Weavers and Sousa were participating in when Stewart drove onto their side of the road. The Knight Ride raised money for scholarships in the name of deceased Windham officer Knight.

Deputy County Attorney Tom Reid said Stewart was taking an intoxicating mixture of drugs, including alprazolam, and was driving so recklessly along Route 111 that panicked drivers began calling police about getting Stewart's black SUV off the road.

Stewart offered no apology during the hearing.

Defense lawyer Neil Reardon argued for a 3 to 7 year prison term.

Stewart pleaded guilty to charges of negligent homicide, second-degree assault, reckless conduct and aggravated drunken driving. He will be allowed to appeal his case to a sentence review board, which could increase, decrease or maintain his sentence.

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James A. Kimble may be reached at

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