July 30, 2013

Belgrade double-fatal drunk driver to spend 4 years behind bars

Travis Lawler, 23, formerly of Oakland, sentenced to 9 years, all but 4 suspended, and 4 years' probation for accident that killed sister, her boyfriend in 2012

By Betty Adams badams@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

AUGUSTA — A former U.S. Marine originally from the Oakland area was ordered to serve an initial four years behind bars for a drunken-driving crash that killed his sister and her boyfriend on June 16, 2012 in Belgrade.

click image to enlarge

Clad in a Marine Corps dress uniform, Travis Lawler, 23, formerly of Oakland, cries before being sentenced today to nine years in prison, all but four yeas suspended, and four years' probation, at Kennebec County Superior Court, for convictions related to a June 2012 drunk driving accident that killed his sister, Kristin Lawler, 20, of Oakland, and her boyfriend, Jackson Bolduc, 25, of Belgrade.

Staff photo by Andy Molloy

click image to enlarge

A 2011 Toyota Corolla is seen after crashing into a tree June 16, 2012 in Belgrade. The driver, Travis Lawler, 22, originally from the Oakland area was ordered to serve an initial four years behind bars for a drunken-driving crash that killed his sister and her boyfriend in Belgrade.

Photo courtesy of Maine State Police

Travis Lawler, 23, was on leave from the U.S. Marine Corps' Camp Lejeune in North Carolina when the crash occurred about 11 p.m. after the car he was driving went off Horse Point Road in North Belgrade and struck a tree.

His sister, Kristin Lawler, 20, of Oakland, was pronounced dead at the scene. Her boyfriend, Jackson Bolduc, 25, of Belgrade, died of his injuries the next day.

A third passenger, Dylan Desroches, then 20, of Waterville, suffered serious injuries.

Lawler appeared for the hearing in Kennebec County Superior Court in full Marine dress uniform, his hair short, carrying his white hat. His lawyer later said he'd been discharged months ago but chose to wear the uniform during the hearing because "he was proudest when he was wearing it."

Even before proceedings started, Lawler was in tears, wiping his eyes with white tissues and holding hands with a woman in a pink sundress. Lawler also was accompanied by his father.

Lawler sobbed aloud and barely managed to say "guilty" five times as he admitted to two charges each of manslaughter and aggravated criminal operating under the influence and one count of violating conditions of release.

"All I can say is I'm sorry," Lawler said.

He said he regretted getting behind the wheel that night.

"I can't take it back. I wish I could," he said.

At one point, the judge asked whether Lawler needed time to gather himself, but his defense attorney, Scott Gurney, told him more time was unlikely to help.

Justice John O'Neil imposed a sentenced supported jointly by the prosecutor, Deputy District Attorney Fernand LaRochelle and Gurney.

The full sentence is nine years in prison, with all but four years suspended, and four years probation, including community service as directed by the probation officer. Lawler's driver's license was suspended for 10 years.

Lawler is to report to jail Sept. 6 to begin his jail sentence.

O'Neil asked the attorneys about the sentencing agreement before accepting the guilty pleas. He told Lawler the manslaughter convictions carried prison terms of up to 30 years.

Left the scene

The night of the accident, Lawler left the scene on foot and was found about a half mile away on the shore of Great Pond.

In an interview with the Kennebec Journal shortly after the crash, Lawler said he was in the water when police found him. He said he did not recall leaving the accident scene, why he left or where the group had been before the crash.

He was indicted in September on two counts of manslaughter and two counts of aggravated criminal operating under the influence.

He has been free on bail since he pleaded not guilty at his arraignment. He later was indicted in March on a charge of violating conditions of release by contacting Desroches last September.

In October, Lawler was convicted in Waterville District Court of possession of 1 1/4 ounces of marijuana and fined $350. The offense occurred Aug. 4 in Winslow. At that time, his address was listed as Jacksonville, N.C.

LaRochelle said Monday in court that Lawler and Desroches had been at a friend's birthday party in Sidney before going to Belgrade to meet his sister and her boyfriend at 6 p.m. at a beach on the lake.

"All four got on boat to go fishing, and alcohol was consumed on this fishing expedition," LaRochelle said. Then the four got into Lawler's car about 9 p.m. LaRochelle said. Desroches said the four went somewhere to smoke marijuana.

(Continued on page 2)

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