A federal judge has restricted the federal government's ability to use results of a blood test done on a Cushing fishing boat captain accused of causing the death of two crew members when his lobsterboat sank during a November 2014 gale.

U.S. District Court Judge D. Brock Hornby issued his ruling Wednesday, Jan. 17, in the case of 29-year-old Christopher A. Hutchinson.

Hutchinson is charged with two counts of seaman's manslaughter for the deaths of Tom Hammond, 27, of Rockland, and 15-year-old Tyler Sawyer, who lived in St. George and Waldoboro. They were crew members aboard Hutchinson's lobsterboat, No Limits, which sank Nov. 1, 2014.

Hornby ruled that Coast Guard regulations do not compel a seaman to submit to a blood test. He also ruled that the consent received from Hutchinson was not voluntary.

The investigators also failed to get a warrant from the court to obtain the blood sample and there were no exigent circumstances requiring the test before a warrant was obtained. The government also did not have probable cause for the draw at the time it was taken, Hornby ruled.

The U.S. Attorney's Office can only use the results of the blood test at the upcoming trial if Hutchinson testifies and states that he did not use any drugs.

Hutchinson's attorney, Michael Turndorf, of Portland, had asked for the blood test to be suppressed from the trial, arguing successfully that it was done without a warrant or probable cause. Hearings on the suppression motion were held Dec. 18 and Dec. 20.

Turndorf pointed out that the Coast Guard had no suspicion that Hutchinson was under the influence through its contact with him and that a blood alcohol test showed no alcohol in his system.

The defense attorney also pointed out that the medical staff at Maine Medical Center had refused a request by the Coast Guard to take a blood test. The Coast Guard then contacted a Gorham police officer trained in taking blood samples.

On the night of the sinking, one of two drug dealers who is alleged to have provided oxycodone to Hutchinson contacted Sawyer's father and suggested that he ask the Coast Guard to test the captain for drugs, according to a filing in court by the prosecution. The father contacted the Coast Guard and a blood sample was drawn shortly before Hutchinson was released from the hospital in Portland.

The prosecution maintains that Hutchinson purchased 20, 30-milligram oxycodone pills from two separate drug dealers, smoked marijuana with Sawyer's father, and drank a rum and coke at a Rockland restaurant on Halloween, according to papers filed in court by the U.S. Attorney's Office. He then departed for a fishing trip at 1 a.m. Nov. 1 from Linda Bean's dock in Tenants Harbor as rain began falling.

The emergency position-indicating radio beacon from the vessel activated at 1:30 p.m. that day, when the vessel sank. A Coast Guard helicopter located Hutchinson in a life raft without a survival suit or life preserver at 4 p.m. The bow of the No Limits was spotted by the helicopter at 5 p.m. with no signs of life. The helicopter diverted from a search for the two missing crew members in order to take Hutchinson to the hospital for treatment of exposure and a cut to his head.

The prosecution states in a court filing that Hutchinson admitted to Tyler Sawyer's father, Travis Sawyer, during a Nov. 2, 2014, telephone call and in person on Nov. 3 that Hutchinson was "dirty" at the time of the sinking.

Hutchinson admitted to attorneys for his insurance company Dec. 11, 2014, that he had taken the oxycodone and smoked marijuana. The Cushing man also told Coast Guard investigators Jan. 13, 2015, that he knew what the blood test would detect, telling them that he bought the painkillers off the street for back and shoulder pain, according to the government.

Hutchinson's mother was in the hospital room and objected to the blood test, but the officer said it was mandatory, according to the defense motion to suppress the drug test. The defense claims Hutchinson was asleep in a hospital bed when the sample was taken from an an existing intravenous line. He never signed a consent form for the test, Turndorf argued.

Jury selection for Hutchinson's trial is scheduled for Feb. 5. The trial is expected to last 10 days.

The charges carry a prison sentence of up to 10 years.

Hutchinson was initially released on bail after being charged in December 2016 with manslaughter, but in April 2017 he was ordered detained until trial after he admitted to overdosing on heroin March 13 of that year at a residence in Friendship.

Two doses of the drug Narcan were administered to Hutchinson, who then regained consciousness during the incident.

In a newspaper interview Hutchinson gave a few days after his boat sank in November 2014, he said the No Limits was on its way back to the mainland after a day of hauling traps when the seas and winds quickly intensified, causing the 45-foot fiberglass lobster boat to flip.

A weather buoy nearby reported wind gusts of 40 knots and waves of up to 14 feet. The boat flipped several miles west of Matinicus, he said.

In July 2015, Superior Court Justice Daniel Billings ruled that $170,500 in damages should go to Michelle Miete of Washington, who is the personal representative of the estate of Hammond, and the remaining $139,500 of the settlement fund should go to Lisa Chickering and Travis Sawyer, the parents and personal representatives of Tyler Sawyer.