An Androscoggin County judge has ordered the release of a grand jury indictment sheet that led to the incorrect announcement this month of a felony manslaughter charge against the driver in a fatal hayride crash last October in Mechanic Falls which claimed the life of 17-year-old Cassidy Charette of Oakland.

The court had impounded the original, erroneous form after the mistake was discovered and a corrected indictment sheet was prepared and made public. Court officials initially refused to provide the incorrect document to the Portland Press Herald, which requested it to ensure that the circumstances of the error were fully explained to the public.

The Portland Press Herald filed a formal request for the document under the Freedom of Access Act, and Androscoggin County District Attorney Andrew Robinson urged the court to comply with the request.

The form signed by the grand jury foreman on July 8 was provided to the Press Herald on Thursday and appears to confirm the explanation provided by Robinson on July 9 that a clerical error led to his announcement of felony charges against 55-year-old David Brown. The jury foreman, whose name is not legible, signed and dated a form listing a range of potential charges against Brown, including manslaughter. The form does not indicate that any of the charges had been rejected by the grand jury. In fact, the grand jury had rejected all felony charges against Brown and voted only for an indictment on one misdemeanor, reckless conduct.

Justice MaryGay Kennedy signed the order Wednesday saying the impounded indictment sheet could be released to the public in response to the Press Herald request. Kennedy cited the unique circumstances of the case and the fact that the corrected indictment sheet and other information had already been made public.

The accident at Harvest Hills Farms killed Charette and injured more than 20 people.

In addition to the misdemeanor indictment of the driver, the grand jury indicted Harvest Hill Farms on charges of manslaughter, aggravated assault, driving to endanger and reckless conduct. The grand jury also returned a misdemeanor indictment of reckless conduct against Phillip Theberge, the mechanic for Harvest Hills Farm.

No charges were brought against the owner of the Mechanic Falls farm, Peter Bolduc. Bolduc had previously filed for bankruptcy protection for the land where the farm operates, listing personal injury claims as his top liabilities.


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