AUGUSTA — The prosecution maintains that Andrew P. Bilodeau was reckless or criminally negligent when his vehicle struck an 81-year-old man about 6 p.m. Nov. 18, 2017, in a Northern Avenue crosswalk in Augusta.

The defense attorney told jurors Wednesday morning that it was an accident, maintaining that Bilodeau, 56, of Augusta, thought he had enough time to go around the pedestrian, Emile Morin, of Augusta.

Morin died from his injuries, and Bilodeau’s trial on a single count of manslaughter started Wednesday at the Capital Judicial Center.

He has pleaded not guilty.

Morin’s widow, Gisele Morin, was the first witness, testifying that she and another woman who had accompanied the couple to Mass at St. Augustine Church, and then a bean supper at St. Monica Hall, were feet behind Morin. They were crossing Kendall Street.

Jurors were shown video and audio clips from the accident scene and later in the afternoon were driven to view the scene of the fatality themselves. Closing arguments are set for Thursday morning.

In opening statements, defense attorney Kevin Sullivan said the evidence that Bilodeau was the driver of the vehicle that struck Morin is undisputed.

“This was simply an accident; somebody made a mistake,” Sullivan said.

“Did Andrew make a mistake?” he asked. “He was just driving and someone walked out in front of him.”

Sullivan added that a mistake by Bilodeau might make him civilly liable but did not rise to a criminal offense.

Sullivan played a clip from the scene that night where Augusta Patrol Officer Laura Drouin first speaks to Bilodeau.

“Is he going to make it?” Bilodeau asks the officer in a voice that shakes.

Shortly afterward Drouin testified, and Assistant District Attorney Frayla Tarpinian played another video and audio clip from Drouin’s cruiser and shoulder microphone.

“He was in the crosswalk, in the first section of the crosswalk,” Bilodeau says in response to Drouin’s questions. “I thought I had enough time to go around him. I thought he threw something in my windshield. I guess that’s when I hit him. I thought it was something that was coming through my windshield. Is he going to make it?”

During some of the proceedings, Bilodeau kept his hands over his face and at one point was crying, so the court officer brought him a box of tissues.

The prosecutor also played a six-minute video from Drouin’s cruiser camera of her responding to the scene with lights and siren. She had been parked near Memorial Circle when she got the call to go to the scene.

About 15 people watched the trial Wednesday morning, and Bilodeau testified in the afternoon. He uses metal crutches when he walks because of his cerebral palsy, his attorney said. Bilodeau was not injured in the accident.

The attorneys agreed to stipulate to the fact that Bilodeau had no alcohol or illegal drugs in his system that night, and that the medical examiner would testify that Morin died as a result of blunt force trauma when he was struck by a motor vehicle.

Maine State Trooper Niles Krech, who did the accident reconstruction, testified that evidence he collected showed Bilodeau’s vehicle in the left or oncoming lane as he was driving up Northern Avenue and trying to pass by Morin when the pedestrian was struck. Krech estimated Bilodeau’s speed at 18 to 22 mph in a 25-mph zone.

Krech used photos from the scene to illustrate what happened, showing damage to Bilodeau’s Ford Taurus that had a dent in the hood from Morin’s hips and then a hole surrounded by a shattered windshield where Morin’s head probably hit before the momentum carried him over the top and then off the side of the vehicle.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams


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