SKOWHEGAN — A Madison man originally charged with manslaughter in connection with a fatal 2015 crash in Starks was sentenced this week to serve nine months in jail in a plea agreement with the district attorney’s office.

Jonathan Tyler Cayford, 25, pleaded guilty to a charge of driving to endanger in exchange for dismissal of the manslaughter charge, his attorney, Brad Grant, said by phone Friday. The driving to endanger charge is a class C felony, punishable by up to five years in prison. The original manslaughter charge was a class A felony, punishable by up to 30 years in prison.

Cayford was charged for his role as the driver of a car in which Clint J. Briggs, also of Madison, was killed and two others were injured on Nov. 13, 2015, in a crash on Anson Road in Starks.

Briggs, 21, a passenger in a car driven by Cayford, was found dead at the scene, the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office said at the time.

Cayford, driving west, was passing a line of other westbound vehicles at a high speed when he went off the road, according to the sheriff’s office.

Deputies at the scene estimated Cayford’s speed at 80 mph. Police said that as the vehicles he was passing approached a corner in the road near the intersection of Olde Ferry Road, Cayford lost control of the 1998 Nissan Maxima, striking several trees.

Cayford was taken to Redington-Fairview General Hospital in Skowhegan after the crash. A 17-year-old female passenger in the front seat was taken by LifeFlight of Maine helicopter to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor. Her name was not released.

Cayford was sentenced Thursday to five years in prison with all but the nine months suspended. If he violates his probation with any new criminal activity when he gets out of jail, he could serve some or all of the suspended portion of the sentence. His probation is for two years.

He also was ordered to surrender his driver’s license for two years.

Cayford admitted to the civil violation of “causing death,” for which he was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine, which was suspended to community service work, and another four years of license suspension, for a total of six years of license revocation.

Cayford also was sentenced to 10 days in jail to run at the same time for violating a protection from abuse order, Grant said.

Grant said his motion in court this past summer to dismiss the initial charge, citing violations of discovery rules involving police notes as evidence from the crash, was denied by the judge in Skowhegan court.

The sentencing judge was Superior Court Justice Robert Mullen.

“From our perspective, the manslaughter charge, they were claiming that his conduct caused the death, and I think the experts showed that his conduct may have caused the accident,” Grant said. “But there were other issues that caused the death, for instance the integrity of the car. So he pled guilty to driving to endanger and not manslaughter.”

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]


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