AUGUSTA — A Farmingdale man was convicted Tuesday of aggravated criminal operating under the influence and aggravated assault in connection with a head-on crash that left three people, including him, seriously injured.

Rowe L. Palmer, 38, went on trial Monday at the Capital Judicial Center on charges stemming from the crash on Jan. 4, 2016, on Route 9 in Chelsea.

The jury deliberated about an hour before returning the guilty verdicts. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for 1 p.m. Nov. 20. In the meantime, Palmer remains free on bail.

Palmer was hurt, as were Richard R. and Monique Morin, of Randolph, the couple in the other truck. All three had to be cut free to get them out of their mangled trucks.

Both charges were “aggravated” because of the serious injuries that resulted. Palmer has no criminal prior record, his attorney said.

“The victims in this case are fortunate to be alive,” said District Attorney Maeghan Maloney via email after the verdict. “This case exemplifies why we work so hard to stop driving under the influence! Whether the substance is alcohol, marijuana, or other drugs, driving under the influence destroys lives.”


The Morins, who have been married almost 45 years, testified separately Monday afternoon about the crash and its aftermath.

Richard R. Morin told jurors the crash occurred on his first day of retirement. He had waited for his wife to come home from work, and they were going to return some items at Walmart before going to a meeting of Le Club Calumet members.

He drove her Tacoma truck that cold night.

“It was nice. The roads were dry,” he said in response to questions by the prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney Tyler LeClair.

Morin said about 5:45 p.m. that night, just past Fowler’s Roofing in Chelsea, he “saw a bright light and then felt a thud.”

Then it went dark and he heard his wife crying next to him. He told her it was OK, and then a rescuer “hauled me out,” he testified.


He also recalled hearing the sound of helicopter blades as a Lifeflight helicopter arrived. He was flown to Central Maine Medical Center, where he was hospitalized for a month. He then spent three months in a rehabilitation and nursing home, finally returning to his own home in April 2016.

He told LeClair that he did not have health problems before the crash and now walks with difficulty and has continuing medical needs.

“It’s a constant pain in my legs and my feet,” he said.

Maloney gave more detail about Morin’s injuries, saying he “broke both femur bones above his knees, ankle, heel, elbow and five ribs. He will never walk normally again.”

Monique Morin testified that she returned to work full time in May 2016 after her husband was able to be home alone. Maloney said Monique Morin’s right foot was crushed and has yet to heal, and that amputation remains a possibility.

Maloney said the three weeks the Morins were apart in the hospital “is the longest they have ever been apart.”


On Monday, after the completion of the state’s case, Judge Eric Walker denied a motion for acquittal by Rowe’s defense attorney, Darrick Banda.

Walker said the state provided enough evidence to move forward with the case.

Banda argued the state failed to provide evidence that Palmer was under the influence of alcohol when the crash occurred.

He said Rowe’s statement the night of the crash that “I shouldn’t have drank and drove (sic)” was simply conversation. Banda said the appearance of erratic operation occurred “because Rowe’s dogs were getting out of control.”

LeClair objected to Banda’s motion, saying that Rowe talked about having beers at lunch and that a box of Sam Adams beer was found in his truck.

Rowe, who was not in custody, opted against testifying at his trial.


The defense did not present any evidence and rested almost immediately after the prosecution did on Monday.

In closing arguments Tuesday morning, LeClair urged jurors to find Palmer guilty because evidence showed he had been swerving down the road and his blood alcohol level was measured at 0.131 some three hours after the crash, and he had referred to drinking in his own statement. The limit for adults over 21 is 0.08.

In November 2016, Justice Robert Mullen rejected a pretrial motion by the defense to suppress the results of a blood sample taken from Palmer at the hospital before he went into surgery. However, Mullen suppressed a blood test that was done in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. The blood-testing kit had expired.

After the trial on Tuesday, Banda said the intent is to appeal Mullen’s decision to allow the state to use the second test result.

“We were letting the process play through,” Banda said.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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