VT Man Pleads Guilty in Fatal Crash that Killed Friend
A Vermont man admitted today in Salem Superior Court that he was driving drunk when he crashed into a pole and killed his friend just after midnight on April 23, 2016.
Joseph Castano, 20, of Williston, VT pleaded guilty to Motor Vehicle Homicide while Under the Influence of Liquor and Manslaughter. He was visiting his childhood friend, Craig Sampson, Jr., then a sophomore at Endicott College in Beverly, when the crash occurred.
Judge Timothy Feeley sentenced him to a total of three and half years in the House of Corrections followed by 3 years of probation during which he is ordered not to drive, to remain drug and alcohol free and submit to random screens. A Motor Vehicle Homicide conviction also results in an automatic 15-year loss of license.
In his initial sentencing argument, Essex Assistant District Attorney James Gubitose had requested a 4 to 7 year state prison sentence, stating that while the defendant did not intend to kill his friend, he made a series of choices that led to his friend’s death. ADA Gubitose told the court that the defendant was seen drinking heavily by witnesses and it was later determined that his blood alcohol level was .22%. After an altercation with another student, he got into his BMW with the victim and drove away at a high rate of speed on Hale Street adjacent to the Endicott College campus. He lost control of the vehicle and it slid sideways down the road, crashing into a utility pole on the passenger side, killing Craig Sampson.
“Two families are devastated, one young life is lost and another forever changed, all because of alcohol,” Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett said. “As the holidays approach and college students come home for break, I urge parents to talk with their children about drinking and driving and encourage them to ensure they have safe transportation home. This tragedy was entirely avoidable.”
Mr. Castano was represented by Attorney Randy Chapman and was taken into custody following the hearing.