ROCKLAND — A 55-year-old truck driver was sentenced Friday to 25 years in prison for driving a tractor-trailer while drunk and speeding, leading to a crash that killed two Knox County residents.

Justice William Stokes imposed the sentence on Randall Junior Weddle for 15 counts including two counts of manslaughter. The full sentence was 30 years with all but 25 years suspended to be followed by four years of probation.

The charges stem from a March 18, 2016, crash that killed 45-year-old Christina Torres-York of Warren and 74-year-old Paul Fowles of Owls Head. Tracy Cook of Union was injured, with multiple broken bones and a concussion from the crash on Route 17 in Washington.

Assistant District Attorney Jeffrey Baroody, left, addresses the court during the sentencing of Randall Weddle, right, at the Knox County Courthouse in Rockland on Friday. Seated next to Weddle is defense attorney Jeremy Pratt. The Courier-Gazette/Stephen Betts

Justice Stokes said it was about as serious as a manslaughter case could be, and that Weddle’s claim of accepting responsibility was dubious.

The judge said the pain experienced by family members was beyond description.

“There are so many victims. The ripples go on forever,” Stokes said.

The prosecution pointed out in its sentencing recommendation that Weddle had 12 convictions for operating under the influence and 11 speeding tickets prior to the March 2016 fatal crash. Those were among 51 criminal and traffic violations.

Weddle’s driver’s license was suspended in Louisiana and Virginia at the time of the crash because of OUI convictions.

Randall Junior Weddle

Justice Stokes asked how Weddle kept his license with such a record. Assistant District Attorney Jeffrey Baroody said department of motor vehicle officials in states where Weddle’s licenses were suspended or revoked did not communicate that information with other states.

Weddle lived in Virginia on the Tennessee border and when his license in Virginia was suspended for drunk driving, he went across the state line to get a license in Tennessee.

In a May 2016 interview, Rick Mullenix, the owner of trucking company R & E Logistics Inc. of Chuckey, Tenn., said he was not aware that Weddle’s license had been revoked in Virginia and suspended in Louisiana. He had hired Weddle in September 2015.

District Attorney Jonathan Liberman and ADA Baroody had recommended that Weddle be sentenced to 50 years in prison with all but 40 years suspended. The maximum sentence for manslaughter is 30 years but the prosecutors argued that the sentences should be consecutive rather than concurrent.

Stokes said 30 years was a significant sentence.

Defense attorney Jeremy Pratt asked the court to impose a sentence of 20 years with all but nine years suspended. He said the sentence sought by the prosecution was three times more than any previous sentence imposed for a vehicular manslaughter conviction in Maine.

Weddle was convicted by a Knox County jury Jan. 30 on all counts – 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 District Attorney’s Office had made an initial offer to Weddle last year of 30 years with all but 20 years suspended, but Weddle rejected it.

Numerous family members and friends of the victims have attended the trial. More than 20 turned out for Friday’s sentencing with several holding individual red roses.

Family members and friends spoke to Justice Stokes, asking him to impose the maximum sentence possible.

Family members of Torres-York said their lives have not been the same since her death. They said she was not able to see the birth of her granddaughter and will not see other memorable family milestones. Her sister Theresa Kenniston said Torres-York was like a second mother to her and someone she could confide in. Kenniston said she listens to voicemails to hear her sister’s voice.

Torres-York earned her bachelor of science degree in mental health and human services through the University of Maine in Augusta and was due to graduate in May 2016.

Fowles’ long-time partner also spoke about his loss. Justice Stokes said Fowles was a well-respected member of the community and a veteran.

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

There was also testimony that Weddle was traveling at a minimum of 69 miles per hour when he lost control of the 1996 Freightliner on a curve. The trailer was carrying lumber. The truck had been traveling at 81 miles per hour less than 30 seconds before the crash.

“Virtually all of the first responders on the scene describe this as the most significant crash of their careers, and those who arrived first to the call will forever have the crash scene burned into their memories,” the sentencing memo states. “The psychological trauma on all of those witnesses is significant, and it is all a direct result of the defendant’s conduct.”

The defense included a biography of Weddle, who was raised on a tobacco farm in Virginia. Weddle dropped out of school after eighth grade to help on the family farm. The defense states that Weddle has had a strong work ethic throughout his life.

Pratt also argued in his sentencing recommendation that Weddle accepted responsibility during interviews with police. The judge should also consider Weddle’s age in the sentencing, the Camden attorney argued.

There were several letters submitted to the court by friends of Weddle’s asking for leniency. He also submitted a letter to the court that was not read during the hearing.

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