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Home » News » Crime

November 02. 2012 2:10PM

Driver sentenced 1-3 years in prison for fatal crash that killed Navy officer

BRENTWOOD – A Navy officer was sentenced 1 to 3 years in state prison for causing a deadly crash along Route 101 in Hampton last December that killed a Navy lieutenant working at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.

David Frazier, 45, of Barrington, pleaded guilty to negligent homicide on Friday for causing the Dec. 10 crash along Route 101 in Hampton that claimed the life of his passenger, Lt. Travis Douglas.

Douglas’ mother, Julianna Cecil, asked Judge Kenneth McHugh for leniency in sentencing Frazier, who tearfully apologized to the victim’ family before being taken into custody.

“He had a great respect for David,” Cecil said during court on Friday. “I believe David was more than a friend. He was a confidante and mentor.”

Douglas, 31, of Newmarket, was a native of Louisville, Kentucky who oversaw rehabbing submarines at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. He was selected by a four-star general to become an assistant to the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program, according to his family.

Douglas’ uncle, Michael Cecil, said his nephew was a divorced father of three when he came to New Hampshire, but quickly forged strong bonds with his coworkers, including Frazier.

“His coworkers became his friends. He developed family outside of Kentucky,” Michael Cecil said.

Prosecutors argued for a 2 to 5 year prison sentence, saying it was a “lenient” recommendation that took into account the wishes of Douglas’s family, and Frazier’s willingness to accept responsibility.

Frazier drove his Infinity along Route 101 around 1 a.m. on the morning of Dec. 10 with Douglas in his passenger’s seat.

The vehicle topped out at a speed of 115 m.p.h., rolling over several times after it went off the road near the Route 1 off ramp, according to Assistant County Attorney Howard Helrich. Frazier and Douglas had been drinking at a Salisbury, Mass., nightclub just prior to the crash.

Helrich argued while the families of Frazier and Douglas called the crash a tragedy, it was preventable one that deserved state prison time.

“Hurricane Sandy was a tragedy,” Helrich said. “What happened on Dec. 10 was a tragedy, but it was preventable. It was a tragedy because of the choice he made.”

Defense lawyer Ryan Russman asked for McHugh to impose a 1 to 3 year county jail term instead of state prison. The imprisonment reflected a sentence similar to one recommended by probation officials.

Turning to Douglas’ family seated in the court gallery, Russman said that Frazier, “wanted me to ensure you and (Douglas’) children are satisfied with whatever recommendation,” was handed down.

Frazier said he will always regret deciding to get behind the wheel on the night of the crash and apologized to Douglas’s mother and family.
“They have shown me a grace I’ve never known,” Frazier said.

McHugh said he was moved by the forgiveness that Douglas’ family -- calling them “amazing people” -- but he had to hand down a sentence based on punishment and public deterrence. McHugh said on average, he would sentence someone 3 to 6 years in prison for a negligent homicide conviction.

McHugh said he was taking the unusual step of allowing corrections officials to decide whether Frazier would be eligible for supervised release to serve out his sentence.

“Death does require a state prison sentence,” McHugh said. “I have to be somewhat consistent in what I do.”

jkimble@newstote.com


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