Truck driver convicted in deaths of two from Knox County files appeal

By Stephen Betts | Apr 13, 2018
Photo by: Stephen Betts Randall Weddle, right, has appealed his conviction for manslaughter. Defense attorney Jeremy Pratt, center, represents the Virginia truck driver. Deputy District Attorney Jeffrey Baroody, left, prosecuted the case.

Rockland — The attorney for a Virginia truck driver -- who was convicted earlier this year for causing the deaths of two Knox County residents in a March 2016 crash -- has appealed his conviction to the state's highest court.

Randall Junior Weddle, 55, was convicted by a Knox County jury Jan. 30 on two counts of manslaughter, three counts of aggravated operating under the influence, two counts of driving to endanger and eight counts of various trucking rule violations. Those violations include false record-keeping, driving while fatigued, driving while using alcohol and driving while possessing alcohol.

Justice William Stokes sentenced Weddle March 23 to 30 years in prison with all but 25 years suspended, to be followed by four years of probation.

Attorney Jeremy Pratt of Camden filed the appeal to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court April 11.

Pratt said Friday, April 13, the roadside blood test taken from Weddle without a warrant should have been excluded from the trial. He said there will be other issues raised, but the blood test is the primary issue.

The case stems from a March 18, 2016, crash that claimed the lives of 45-year-old Christina Torres-York of Warren and 74-year-old Paul Fowles of Owls Head. Tracy Cook of Union was injured, sustaining multiple broken bones and a concussion from the crash that occurred on Route 17 in Washington.

Stokes said Weddle's behavior of being drunk, being ill and speeding in an 80,000-pound vehicle was about as serious as any manslaughter case could be. The judge also said that Weddle's claim of accepting responsibility was dubious.

The judge said the pain experienced by family members was beyond description. "There are so many victims. The ripples go on forever," Stokes said at the sentencing.

The judge also took aim at Weddle's criminal record. He called it utterly staggering.

"It almost takes your breath away," Stokes said.

The prosecution pointed out in its sentencing recommendation that Weddle had 12 convictions for operating under the influence and 11 speeding tickets prior to the March 2016 fatal crash. Those were among 51 criminal and traffic violations.

Weddle's driver's license was suspended in Louisiana and Virginia at the time of the fatal crash in Washington because of OUI convictions.

Weddle lived in Virginia on the Tennessee border and when his license in Virginia was suspended for drunk driving, he went across the state line to get a license in Tennessee.

Comments (4)
Posted by: Dale Hayward | Apr 13, 2018 15:17

I thought he got something like 25 or 35 years, and if so is that a slap on the wrist? I do not believe prison is that much fun. However wasting tax dollars to appeal is the lawyer's action as he would have to give this guy some assurance that "this might work".

Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Apr 13, 2018 14:28

Wasting taxpayers money is a good comment. It is not coming out of his pocket and he is not the one who suffers from the loss of lives. A slap on the wrists, probation, serve a few months and off to commit again!

Posted by: Annette M Tolman | Apr 13, 2018 14:01

It's really too bad nobody can take responsibility for their own actions.  He should just be a man and admit what he did and accept his punishment.

Posted by: Francis Mazzeo, Jr. | Apr 13, 2018 13:35

He's just wasting taxpayer money.

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