AUGUSTA — A former Augusta man convicted of manslaughter last year for striking and killing 81-year-old Augusta native Emile Morin is seeking a new trial.

Andrew P. Bilodeau, 56, was convicted of manslaughter in December 2018 after a jury found him guilty of striking and killing Morin as Morin walked across Northern Avenue. Bilodeau was behind the wheel of his Ford Taurus, while Morin was crossing the street in a crosswalk. The incident took place after a Knights of Columbus dinner Morin attended after going to Mass at nearby St. Augustine Church, where he was an usher for many years.

Bilodeau now is seeking a new trial and to have his conviction set aside.

His attorney, Kevin Sullivan, said in a court hearing to consider the motion for a new trial Wednesday that what happened was an accident. He said the jury made its decision based on emotion, and argued that testimony during the trial — which included discussion that Bilodeau is disabled and had difficulty driving — was improper.

“This was an accident, an unfortunate accident. That’s all this was,” Sullivan told Justice Michaela Murphy about the Nov. 18, 2017, pedestrian fatality. “This was a jury making a decision based on emotions.”

Several family members of Morin, an Augusta native who was active at St. Augustine and in the local Franco-American community, attended the court hearing. They brought a photograph of Morin with them into the courtroom.

“We’re here to bring justice to my dad, Emile Morin,” Morin’s daughter, Caryn Murphy, of Waterville, said through tears after the court session Wednesday. “I feel like Andrew Bilodeau got a fair trial.

“Twelve jurors all agreed that he was guilty, and the family would like that verdict to stick. We want justice for Dad,” she added. “It has been a year-and-a-half and the family needs closure. And it’s hard to get when this drags on.”

Assistant District Attorney Frayla Tarpinian, prosecutor in the trial, said there was sufficient evidence for the jury to reach the guilty verdict it did. She said her argument in the trial was that Bilodeau was reckless when he tried to drive around Morin, and that if he couldn’t bring his vehicle to a stop, he shouldn’t have been driving — not that he shouldn’t have been driving simply because he was disabled.

Andrew Bilodeau, left, and his attorney Kevin Sullivan during opening statements of his jury trial on Dec. 12, 2018 at Capital Judicial Center in Augusta. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan

Bilodeau has cerebral palsy and walks with the use of crutches. Justice Murphy said Wednesday that Bilodeau said he sought permission from the state Bureau of Motor Vehicles to equip his car with hand brakes — because there could be a delay in braking when he braked with his legs — but state officials declined. They still, however, allowed him to drive.

Sullivan said arguments at trial included that Bilodeau shouldn’t have been driving and that it was improper to argue that someone with a disability shouldn’t be driving.

But Tarpinian said while his disabilities were brought up at trial — by Bilodeau — she didn’t argue that he should have refrained from driving because of his disability.

Sullivan also argued that improper questioning about what Bilodeau said that night resulted in a witness testifying that it seemed odd that he wasn’t showing remorse.

Tarpinian responded that her intent with questioning was not to establish that Bilodeau didn’t show remorse. She said Wednesday she feels Bilodeau did in fact show remorse, by asking police about the condition of Morin after the collision.

During the December 2018 trial, Bilodeau held his hands over his face for much of the time during closing arguments and once, when the courtroom was almost empty, sobbed out loud.

Caryn Murphy said the process has been emotional and long, and she and the rest of Morin’s family are hoping for a quick decision by Justice Murphy, against having a new trial.

Justice Murphy said in court she would make a decision just as soon as she could.

Jurors deliberated for about four hours in December 2018 before returning the guilty verdict on a charge of manslaughter.

Morin’s widow, Gisele Morin, testified in the trial 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 a few feet behind Morin, in a crosswalk.

On police recordings made while investigating the accident, which were played for the jury, Bilodeau said he saw someone in the first section of the crosswalk and thought he had enough time to go around him.

filed under:

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.