ROCKLAND — A Knox County jury found a Tennessee truck driver guilty of manslaughter and other offenses Tuesday in the deaths of two area residents in a crash two years ago.

The jury deliberated for two hours Monday afternoon and an additional 90 minutes Tuesday morning before rendering its verdicts in the trial of Randall Junior Weddle, 55, of Greeneville, Tennessee.

Weddle was charged with two counts of manslaughter, three counts of aggravated operating under the influence, two counts of driving to endanger and eight counts of various trucking rule violations. Those violations include false record-keeping, driving while fatigued, driving while using alcohol and driving while possessing alcohol.

The charges stemmed from a March 18, 2016, crash that claimed the lives of Christina Torres-York, 45, of Warren and Paul Fowles, 74, of Owls Head. Tracy Cook of Union suffered multiple broken bones and a concussion in the crash, which occurred on Route 17 in Washington.

Manslaughter carries a maximum potential sentence of 30 years in prison. The district attorney’s office had made an initial offer to Weddle last year of 30 years with all but 20 years suspended, but he rejected that offer.

Sentencing will be held at a later date.

Weddle has been held at the Knox County Jail in Rockland since his arrest in May 2016.

The victim witness advocate said after the verdict that family members did not want to make a comment. There were 20 family members and friends of the victims in the courtroom Tuesday awaiting the verdict.

In his closing arguments Monday, District Attorney Jonathan Liberman said the fatal crash was not a random act.

“This was not the fault of bad road construction. This was not a random act of God,” Liberman said. “The man responsible is sitting in this room.”

Liberman cited the testimony of witnesses about Weddle’s blood alcohol level and findings on the speed of the tractor-trailer he was driving.

“Randall Weddle made a series of reckless decisions and took everyone else on the ride with him,” Liberman said.

Defense attorney Jeremy Pratt argued that the state had failed to prove that Weddle had acted in a way that was a gross deviation from what a reasonable and prudent person would have done. He said the state’s case was based on a lot of conjecture, surmising and assumptions.

The defense called only one witness, Dr. Joann Samson, an expert on toxicology. She testified that the amount of prescribed oxycodone taken by Weddle would not have added to the impact of any alcohol he had consumed.

Weddle did not testify at the trial, which began Jan. 23.

Testimony included results of blood alcohol tests, which showed he had a 0.090 level immediately after the crash and 0.073 a few hours later at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston where he had been flown by a LifeFlight helicopter

There was also testimony that Weddle was traveling a minimum of 69 mph when he lost control of the 1996 Freightliner tractor-trailer truck on a curve by the Fitch Road. The trailer was carrying lumber. The truck had been going 81 mph less than 30 seconds before the crash.

Liberman said that the speed alone was enough to find Weddle guilty of manslaughter, but in combination with his consumption of alcohol, drugs and being ill and fatigued, should result in a guilty verdict.

The prosecutor referred to the testimony of two witnesses who survived the crash, Tracy Cook and Tracy Morgan. He said they were the lucky ones despite the trauma they experienced. He said Torres-York and Fowles lost their lives because of Weddle.

Liberman and Assistant District Attorney Jeffrey Baroody prosecuted the case.

Superior Court Justice William Stokes presided over the trial.

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.