AUGUSTA — Laying on a stretcher in the emergency room, Alexander Biddle asked a trooper if he could convey a message to the family of Halee Cummings.

“I am truly sorry; I really apologize,” Biddle says on a recording played Wednesday, the second day of his jury trial at the Capital Judicial Center. The trial is expected to conclude Thursday, and it is unclear whether Biddle will testify.

Once the jury left the courtroom on Wednesday, Justice William Stokes advised Biddle of his right to testify if he chooses to. If he chooses not to, Stokes said he would tell the jury they could not make any inference from that.

Biddle, 23, of Pittston, is accused of manslaughter in the death of Cummings, 18, who was a passenger on Biddle’s four-wheeler when it crashed on a dirt driveway leading to her father’s house around 10 p.m. Sept. 18, 2015, in Sidney.

Biddle was taken to MaineGeneral Medical Center in Augusta shortly after the fatal crash. There, Maine State Police Trooper Jesse Duda interviewed him and witnessed Biddle’s blood sample being drawn to determine his blood alcohol content.

“Mr. Biddle was being treated for some abrasions and bruises,” Duda testified Wednesday in response to questions from Deputy District Attorney Paul Cavanaugh. “He was conscious and alert and medical staff allowed me to go in and talk to him.”


The entire 17-minute audio recording was played in court Wednesday morning.

Biddle’s voice is muffled on the recording while Duda’s is clear. Cavanaugh explained that Duda had the digital recorder in a shirt pocket.

Biddle says he had four or five beers, the last one 10 minutes before the ride.

“I know I’m over the limit,” Biddle says. “If I’m over the limit, what happens?” He wonders aloud whether he will be charged with manslaughter.

Justice William Stokes told the jury that the attorneys agreed that Biddle’s blood-alcohol level was measured at 0.063 percent. The legal driving limit for adults over 21 in Maine is 0.08 percent. Later, the judge also told jurors that attorneys agreed Cummings’ blood alcohol level was 0.075 percent.

Biddle says he and Cummings — whom he described as “just a friend; I wish it was more” — saw a deputy’s cruiser come up Philbrick Road while they were riding down it.


“She said, ‘Get out of here, get out of here, let’s go.'”

Biddle said the two had been drinking and he was driving an ATV on a public way.

He tells Duda that he told her, “All right, hold on, hold on,” and he started going 50-60 mph.

Once across Shepherd Road, there were potholes on the dirt driveway, and Biddle says the ATV started bouncing.

Then came a curve, but the vehicle went straight, going off the road and crashing.

Documents shown in court Wednesday indicate Biddle’s 2015 Polaris 450 ATV was registered one day prior to the crash. Photos displayed on monitors in the courtroom showed two manufacturer’s stickers on the cockpit of the ATV warning against carrying passengers.


However, Steve Couture, a district Game Warden with the Maine Warden Service who investigated the crash, said it was not against the law to have two people on board and that neither Biddle nor Cummings were required to wear helmets.

Other photos displayed in court showed the ATV upside down at the crash site and later upright after it was towed to the wardens’ evidence holding area.

The state’s chief medical examiner, Dr. Mark Flomenbaum, said an external examination of Cummings’ body was done, but not an autopsy. “The trauma she suffered was fatal,” Flomenbaum testified on Wednesday afternoon.

On Tuesday, Cummings’ father testified that he later cut down a tree that had his daughter’s hair and blood on it.

Another District Game Warden Eric Blanchard testified that he reconstructed the accident, but because of the dirt driveway and other factors, “There’s no reconstruction method to determine the speed prior to the crash.”

In pointing out the driveway curve on a photo, he testified, “Essentially the ATV didn’t go around the corner, it went straight.”


He also said, “I would be terrified to drive 50 miles per hour on that machine.”

Justin Tillson, 23, of Sidney, who was riding his Yamaha Timberwolf ATV behind Biddle’s, was the final witness called by the prosecution. He said both he and Biddle had coolers of beer on their ATV. He said he saw a car coming up Philbrick Road in the opposite direction but didn’t recognize it as a deputy’s cruiser.

Tillson said he couldn’t remember how fast they were traveling: “maybe 20-25” miles per hour.

“I went down the driveway, and I noticed the dust stopped. I noticed something out of the corner of my eye. All of a sudden I noticed the four-wheeler was flipped over in the ditch.”

He said he turned his ATV around and saw Biddle and Halee behind it.

Tillson said Biddle was trying to get up. “We went to Halee to see if she was all right or what not; obviously she wasn’t,” Tillson said.


Tillson said he told Biddle they needed to call 911 and go to the home of Harland “Hardy” Cummings, Halee’s dad. Tillson drove there and also called 911.

He said he didn’t hear any yelling by anyone and that he spent most of the night near Harland Cummings’ house and didn’t learn until later that Halee Cummings was dead.

Tillson said he got rid of his cooler of beer.

“I threw it off right by where it all happened. I was scared,” he said.

The trial is set to resume at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, and Stokes told jurors they could expect to begin deliberations Thursday as well.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

Twitter: @betadams

Comments are no longer available on this story

filed under: