Sean Dobson

Sean Dobson holds a picture of his brother, Andrew, who was struck and killed in Seabrook last year.

SEABROOK — Relatives of Andrew Dobson say they’ve been let down by the Rockingham County Attorney’s Office.

Nearly a year after Dobson was struck and killed on Route 1A in Seabrook, the woman who was accused of driving drunk or using her cellphone when she hit him will face a bench trial Wednesday on a misdemeanor driving while intoxicated charge that mentions nothing about 51-year-old Dobson’s death.

That’s not the outcome the Dobson family expected.

Dawn Marie Barcellona, 58, of Salisbury, Mass., was indicted by a grand jury earlier this year on more serious felony negligent homicide charges that could have sent her to prison for years if convicted, but those felonies were reduced to a single DWI charge that carries a $500 fine and loss of license.

“We were promised that they would do whatever we wanted as a family and then all of a sudden we got this,” said Dobson’s brother, Sean Dobson of Amesbury, Mass.

The family and its attorney, Nicole Reilly, are expressing frustration, saying they feel the case has been mishandled and that the accident wasn’t properly investigated.

“We feel like justice is not being served,” said Reilly, of Reilly & Rosnov LLP in Middleton, Mass.

Barcellona was expected to plead guilty to the DWI charge last week and receive a $500 fine and loss of license for nine months, but at the last minute she backed out of the plea deal and now wants a Rockingham County Superior Court judge to decide her fate at Wednesday’s bench trial.

Reilly said Dobson’s family was aware of the plea deal and that there could be difficulty proving at least one of the negligent homicide charges. While the deal didn’t include prison time, she said the family was supportive of the agreement because the guilty plea would mean she’s taken responsibility and would have a conviction on her record.

But since the plea deal was rejected, the family insists that she should now face trial on the negligent homicide charges.

“We were never told they were going to dismiss both negligent homicide charges and proceed to trial,” Reilly said.

One of the original negligent homicide charges alleged that Barcellona was under the influence of alcohol, drugs or both when she hit Dobson, who also lived in Salisbury, Mass.

The other charge alleged that she negligently caused Dobson’s death by hitting him while she was using or had been using a mobile device and after consuming alcohol.

Barcellona told police that she was following her boyfriend in her Jeep that night and “the next thing she knew the male (Dobson) stepped out in front of her and hit her hood,” Seabrook Police Sgt. David Buccheri wrote in an affidavit.

She also admitted that she had consumed two white Russian cocktails earlier, according to the affidavit. She initially admitted to only one drink, but later said she had lied because she was scared, the affidavit says.

While the Dobsons and their attorney have raised questions about how the case is being prosecuted, they also question the evidence that was gathered during the investigation.

“What we do know is there is a lack of evidence. I want to know why there is no evidence of certain things that would be admissible. It just seems odd that there is so much evidence that is lacking in this case,” Reilly said.

Reilly said one of the first “red flags” was that the State Police Collision Analysis and Reconstruction Unit did not respond on the night of the accident on Oct. 21, 2018.

According to the affidavit, Buccheri reported that after he arrived at the scene he requested that a call be made to the reconstruction team.

State Police Lt. John Hennessey confirmed Monday that the team didn’t respond to reconstruct the accident. He said the unit was requested but that the information Seabrook police gave to the unit’s commander at the time “did not meet the requirements” of a unit response.

Reilly said she wants to know who called state police to request the unit and “what did they say that caused a non-response to a fatality?”

“This case is not over,” said Dobson’s mother, Susan Dobson, also of Salisbury, Mass.

Reilly said there’s a lot of information that she and the family have not yet been given, including police reports.

Deputy County Attorney Jennifer Haggar said she couldn’t comment on the facts of the case because it’s still pending.

Andrew Dobson watched a football game and then walked to a store to buy cigarettes on the night he was killed, Sean Dobson said.

“He left the house to get a pack of cigarettes like he always did and never came back,” Sean Dobson said.

As the family members seek justice, they’re also keeping memories of Dobson close to their hearts.

Dobson enjoyed spending time with his 12-year-old son, Liam, and his niece, Maille, 20.

“He was all about them,” Sean Dobson said.

He said his brother was funny and was always the life of the party.

“Everyone just loved him,” he said.

Sunday, December 15, 2019
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