Former Lowell Police Officer Pleads Guilty to Motor Vehicle Homicide
A former Lowell Police officer was sentenced to state prison after pleading guilty to killing a 26-year old man and injuring his sister while driving drunk on Riverside Drive in Methuen during the early morning hours of August 23, 2014.
Judge Timothy Feeley sentenced Eric Wayne, 43, to 4 years to 4 years and a day in state prison, followed by 3 years of probation during which he must remain drug and alcohol free. By statute, he will lose his license for 15 years.
Wayne pleaded guilty to Motor Vehicle Homicide while Operating Under the Influence; Manslaughter and Assault & Battery with a Dangerous Weapon today in Salem Superior Court. Essex Assistant District Attorney Kelleen Forlizzi recommended a sentence of 7 to 10 years in state prison.
If the case had gone to trial, ADA Forlizzi would have introduced evidence that would have proven that Briant Paula drove his sister, Lois Paula, home from work shortly after midnight on August 23, 2014. As they drove to Lawrence through Methuen on Riverside Drive, the defendant, driving a white Land Rover, crossed the center yellow line and crashed into them head on. Civilian witnesses at the scene heard the defendant talking on his phone and indicating that he needed to leave the area quickly.
When police arrived, they detected a strong smell of alcohol and observed that the defendant was unsteady on his feet and had bloodshot eyes. The defendant provided a false name to police when they arrested him and repeatedly tried to leave the booking area at the Methuen Police Department. Beer bottles recovered from the defendant’s car and from the scene had blood and saliva on them which matched the defendant’s DNA.
Mr. Briant was transported to Lawrence General Hospital where he was pronounced dead. Ms. Briant was seriously injured and required a cane to walk for a period of time after the crash.
Essex Victim Advocate Jocelyn Picardo assisted with the case. Methuen Police Captain Randy Haggar was the lead investigator and MSP Trooper Tim Dowd was the crash reconstructionist.
The defendant was represented by Attorney Rick Grundy.