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

(Continued from page 1)

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

LaRochelle said an accident reconstructionist estimated the speed at the time of the crash was 72 mph, with the vehicle striking first one small tree, then a larger one before flipping over. Horse Point Road is a narrow, wooded residential road that begins at Route 8 and runs to nearby Great Pond.

As LaRochelle described the speed, the direction and the seating positions in the car — Kristin in the front and Bolduc behind Lawler — and the direction, Lawler shook his head, and clenched and unclenched his hands behind his back.

Emergency responders found the car on its roof and the driver missing. The other three were still in the vehicle.

LaRochelle said both Kristin Lawler and Bolduc had multiple injuries and died of skull fractures. Desroches had a broken arm.

A neighbor heard the crash, and told authorities he saw a young man who appeared to be disoriented standing outside the car and bleeding from the head, who then took off running.

Shortly afterward, Maine State Police got a call about a man stealing a kayak nearby.

The owner brought the kayak back to shore, along with Lawler. His blood alcohol content tested at 0.12, LaRochelle said. The legal limit for adults in Maine is 0.08.

LaRochelle said the bail violation charge stemmed from Lawler texting a farewell message to Desroches, saying he was sorry for everything he did and that he loved him.

'I will never forgive Travis'

Victim impact statements were submitted in writing to the judge before the hearing, and two of those, as well as a poem, were read aloud by a victim/witness advocate. No other victims or family members were present in the courtroom.

The victim advocate read aloud two letters from Bolduc's family.

"We don't think four years behind bars is long enough for killing two people," Dan and Wendy Bolduc wrote. They suggested — and the judge agreed — that Lawler be ordered to speak at driver's education classes in an effort to prevent future tragedies.

Bolduc's sister, Holly Bolduc, wrote, "I will never forgive Travis for what he did."

A poem said the family spread Bolduc's ashes on Great Pond.

Bill Lawler wrote, "I am the father of Kristin and also the father of the person responsible for that loss; since that day I feel I have lost two children."

He said Lawler was a decorated Marine who served three tours in a war zone and was committed to the VA Maine Healthcare Systems-Togus when family members thought he was suicidal.

"I truly feel Travis is paying a price every day of his life," Bill Lawler wrote. "He is constantly punishing himself for his actions that night."

He asked O'Neil to adhere to the four-year initial jail term.

Lawler told O'Neil, "I'm wearing this uniform because it's all I have in my life." He said he always wanted to protect and to save people, and that the crash was the worst night of his life.

Gurney said Lawler had no criminal record before the crash. "He served his country proudly and was much decorated. To say this was out of character is an understatement."

"I think that the plea arrangement negotiated here is a reasonable one," O'Neil said. He said the probation will ensure that Lawler gets alcohol and drug counseling and the community service portion might mean "some benefit could come out of this absolutely tragic event."

He also told Lawler that the convictions mean he can no longer possess firearms.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

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