A Gorham woman had been drinking, had consumed prescription drugs and was driving 85 mph in a 55 mph zone when she crashed her car Oct. 19 in Bridgton, killing her son and boyfriend, a prosecutor said in court Wednesday.

Candice Tucker, 35, of 14 Chestnut Circle, made her initial appearance in Cumberland County Unified Criminal Court in Portland to face two charges of manslaughter and two charges of driving under the influence. Killed in the crash were her son, Branden Denis, 16, a Gorham High School junior and member of the football team, and her boyfriend, Eric Morey, 35, of Portland.

Tucker, who appeared in the yellow jumpsuit of a maximum-security inmate, has been held on $5,000 bail at Cumberland County Jail since her arrest Tuesday at her workplace by South Portland police. She was indicted Friday by a Cumberland County grand jury and a warrant was issued for her arrest.

In court, Justice Nancy Mills read each charge and, after each, asked if Tucker understood. Tucker responded yes each time, becoming increasingly emotional, until she sobbed as she said yes to the final charge of manslaughter.

Assistant District Attorney Angela Cannon argued that Tucker’s bail should be increased to $10,000 because of the seriousness of the crime, risk to the public and danger she might flee the state. She said Tucker’s sister had posted pictures on Facebook after the indictment was released, titled “a last hurrah.” The pictures were taken at a party Friday that Tucker attended and where drinking took place.

Tucker’s lawyer, Amanda Doherty, argued that Tucker had little money to afford bail or leave town, that she posed no danger to the public and that her close family and her job were in Maine, where she has lived for 25 years, the last seven at her current home in Gorham. Doherty also said that witness statements contradict conclusions from the police’s crash reconstruction about how fast she was going.


Doherty said low bail or personal recognizance would be enough to ensure that Tucker shows up for trial.

Justice Mills said she was particularly concerned about Tucker’s substance abuse, citing a drunken-driving conviction from 2002 and the Facebook party pictures as Tucker faced serious charges from a fatal car crash.

“The nature and circumstances of the crimes charged are very, very serious,” and it was “extraordinary” that Tucker would attend a party after the indictment was handed down, Mills said. She set Tucker’s bail at $20,000.

On the day of the accident, Tucker was at the wheel of a 1994 Honda when she lost control on Route 302 just before 6 p.m. and crashed into trees.

Cannon said Tucker was going so fast that the car in front of her had pulled over out of fear of being hit. In the crash, Tucker’s car rolled before landing on the passenger side, where her son was sitting in the back seat and her boyfriend in the front.

Blood tests taken two hours after the crash showed her blood-alcohol content was 0.07 percent, below the legal limit for driving of 0.08 percent, Cannon said. But Tucker also had multiple drugs in her system, including Valium and antidepressants, Cannon said.


Tucker told investigators she had a beer and a shot of whiskey, and there was evidence she had also drunk a cinnamon-flavored whiskey called Fireball, Cannon said. Dozens of small “nip” bottles of the drink as well as empty and full beers were found at the crash scene, according to police reports cited by Cannon.

Tucker received what were described as incapacitating injuries and was taken to Maine Medical Center in Portland for treatment, before being released four days later. Her son and boyfriend were pronounced dead at the crash scene.

Tucker, Morey and Denis had been visiting friends and relatives in Bridgton for much of the day and spent the latter part of that Sunday around a bonfire, friends said. They said Morey was drinking and they were glad when he and Tucker decided she should drive.

Tucker’s explanation for the crash, according to her sister, was that she was distracted by her son in the back seat, drifted into the oncoming lane and swerved back into her lane, hitting the brakes and losing control. A witness in a car that passed Tucker moments before the crash said she was going slower than the speed limit, and the description of her swerving is consistent with what he saw in his rearview mirror.

After the crash, Tucker spent six weeks out of work because of injuries and other complications from the crash, Doherty said. She checked herself into Spring Harbor, a residential mental health facility, then enrolled in aggressive outpatient therapy, her lawyer said. Most of the money she had went to cover the expense of therapy, she said.

Her surviving son and daughter have been staying with their father’s family and she is involved in a custody dispute. She has not been able to visit them as she would like, her lawyer said.


Each of the manslaughter charges carries a possible sentence of 30 years and a $50,000 fine, and the criminal OUI charges are punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: @Mainehenchman

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