A Bristol man has been sentenced to nine months in prison and two years of probation for striking and severely injuring a pedestrian in his pickup truck, then driving away, in August 2018.
Michael J. Bradley, 53, had entered Alford guilty pleas, similar to a plea of no contest, to one count each of class C driving to endanger and class C leaving the scene of an accident involving serious bodily injury, both felonies, July 23. Two more charges were dismissed: class B aggravated assault and class E failure to report accident.
The pedestrian, George Stouter, 77, of Bremen, spent 2 1/2 months in the hospital after suffering a fractured spine, shattered pelvis, internal injuries, and a traumatic brain injury.
Superior Court Justice Daniel Billings handed down the sentence Monday, Oct. 7 at the Lincoln County Courthouse in Wiscasset.
A cap of 18 months in prison had been set on the prison sentence. The prosecutor and defense differed on how long he should serve.
In addition to prison and probation, Bradley must pay a $575 fine and serve a two-year license suspension. The suspension may allow him to drive for work purposes only after an initial 30-day suspension with no driving at all.
On the night of Aug. 5, 2018, George Stouter was walking his dog north on Rial Herald Road in Bremen when the driver of a southbound truck pulled onto the southbound shoulder and stopped to speak with him.
George Stouter crossed the road to speak with the driver at the driver’s side window. The driver warned George Stouter about a porcupine up the road in the direction he was walking his dog.
Bradley was driving a 2006 GMC Sierra 1500 pickup truck north and struck George Stouter with the front of his truck.
“In order to hit George, the defendant had to cross the centerline into the far side of the opposite lane,” according to the state’s sentencing memorandum.
Bradley did not stop or assist George Stouter.
Neither the dog nor the other truck were hit.
Stouter was taken by Central Lincoln County Ambulance Service to LincolnHealth’s Miles Campus in Damariscotta before being transferred to Maine Medical Center in Portland, according to Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Brendan Kane.
According to court documents, the sheriff’s office, with a warrant, obtained Bradley’s cellphone records.
Bradley texted one person several times and asked for the next day off. He continued to text: “tomorrow doesn’t look good either. May be I really big trouble” and “trouble for me, no one else” and “hitting the woods if this goes south.”
The state did not charge Bradley with operating under the influence due to questions about how to prove the charge.
“I believe at the time LCSO arrived at his house they suspected he was intoxicated,” the prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney Andrei Maciag, said in a phone interview after the sentencing.
“The OUI was not pursued because there was an issue about how to prove when and how much he was intoxicated at the time,” Maciag said in the phone interview.
The state’s sentencing memorandum stated the Bradley “denied the hit-and-run, and when confronted about having any remorse for the injured party, he declared he was a former Marine who feels no remorse for anyone, and repeated that statement several times.”
According to court documents, there were four eyewitnesses to erratic driving by Bradley before, during, and after the hit-and-run.
After the prosecutor made his argument, George Stouter described the aftermath of the hit-and-run to the court.
“I want to be clear that this was no small accident from which I could completely recover,” he said.
“I measure all of this in terms of the person I was before this accident and the person I am now,” he said. “I feel like I just lost myself, who I was.”
He could not walk for three months after the incident. He has lost full mobility and uses a cane to walk around. He cannot go up and down the stairs in his house.
“As a result of being in a coma and being intubated, I have lost my speaking voice,” he said. “I can still speak, but it’s a whisper soft.”
“It is very isolating. I can’t have conversations unless I’m standing right next to the person,” he said. He said he had always been a sociable person.
He also has new memory problems. He forgets if he has eaten or fed his dog. In the past, he was an avid reader. Since the crash, he can no longer read because of a “processing problem,” he said.
“Everybody has told me that I’m lucky to be alive and I know that to be the case, so I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining,” he said.
He does not remember the hit-and-run.
“I’m an older person, so I’m not so concerned about myself anymore, but my children were enormously traumatized by this and I am very upset about that,” he said.
Julia Stouter, his daughter, tearfully spoke about her and her brother’s experience after the hit-and-run.
“I want you to understand this has been 14 months of a really hard time and immediately after that accident, in those first weeks, I felt like I was living in hell,” she said.
She said her father had “massive internal bleeding on the brain” when he arrived at the hospital.
“He could have been a potato for the rest of his life. He didn’t know who we were, what year it was. He didn’t recognize my mother,” she said.
At the end of his daughter’s comments, George Stouter told her to stop, as she said, “the fact that he was left on the side of the road, really to bleed out, is, I think, so despicable.”
The defense attorney, Adam Sherman, talked about Bradley’s background during his argument.
Bradley is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and has no prior criminal history, according to Sherman. He has worked for Crooker Construction LLC for almost 20 years. He is married and has a 9-year-old son.
“This time that he is going to spend in jail is obviously going to be very difficult for his wife and his son. His wife doesn’t drive,” Sherman said.
“This has been very difficult on his family, but he is taking responsibility by pleading guilty in this case,” he said.
Bradley did not address the court.
Billings went through a list of mitigating and aggravating factors from the case.
Billings listed Bradley’s lack of criminal history, stable employment record, low likelihood to reoffend, high prospect of rehabilitation, and acceptance of responsibility as mitigating factors.
His failure to stop and help and the impact on George Stouter are aggravating factors, Billings said.
On the night of the incident, Bradley “demonstrated a series of bad choices” that resulted in tragedy for the Stouter family, Billings said.
He continued on to say: “When you talk about someone’s character, it’s not really measured by one particular event or one particular day.”
Bradley was to begin his prison sentence immediately after the sentencing.