A Casco man who was driving erratically and without a license when he crashed his car, killing a 4-year-old passenger and seriously injuring the boy’s mother, pleaded guilty to manslaughter Wednesday in a Portland court.

Michael S. Minson was behind the wheel of a 1993 Honda Civic early on Aug. 11, 2015, driving erratically and passing other cars on Route 11 in Casco when he lost control and slammed into a telephone pole, splitting the car in two.

Minson, who was 28 at the time, was late for his job at Dunkin’ Donuts.

He had never been granted a license to drive, yet his privilege to do so was suspended at the time of the crash because of unpaid fines, according to his attorneys.

Minson had been tailgating one car, had just passed it and was trying to pass another on the inside edge of a curve when he lost control and crashed into the utility pole, severing the car behind the front seats, according to a crash report.

Police said Minson had exceeded the posted speed limit of 50 mph, but did not specify by how much.


Killed in the wreck was 4-year-old Cameron Petersen. His mother, Crystal Petersen, was seriously injured. Surgeons removed part of her brain and she had to undergo extensive rehabilitation.

Minson and Crystal Petersen had been dating for only two weeks when the crash occurred.

Portland Judge Nancy Mills sentenced Minson to 12 years in state prison, with all but 4½ years suspended, along with four years’ probation.

The sentence was on the high end for similar cases in which drugs and alcohol do not play a significant part, Mills said.

“There is nothing that can be done in this court room to fix the hurt that you’ll feel for the rest of your life,” Mills said, addressing the grief-stricken family, before handing down the sentence.

The sentencing capped a two-hour hearing filled with emotional testimony by several members of Petersen’s family.


About two-dozen families members, including Crystal Petersen, were in the courtroom. Several testified, tearfully, about the unending pain the family has endured since the crash.

Multiple family members advocated for the maximum sentence, and counted all the experiences that Cameron Petersen would never experience – first days of school, going to college, getting married.

“Your actions have destroyed my family,” said Petersen’s grandfather, Gary Peasley, in an victim impact statement.

Minson, who stood and addressed the court briefly before his sentencing, apologized for his actions.

“I want to say how sorry I am,” Minson said. “If I could trade places I would in a heartbeat. … I made an awful, careless choice and Cameron and Crystal paid the price.”

This story was updated Thursday morning to correct the spelling of Crystal and Cameron Petersen’s last name.

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