No jail sentence for man who provided alcohol to teen who died in crash
By Patrick McArdle
STAFF WRITER | October 19,2013
BENNINGTON — A local man who pleaded guilty in July to enabling Randy Blair Jr., 19, to drink alcohol on the night Blair died in a crash is not expected to serve any time in jail.
The sentencing for Trevor Murray, 21, of Bennington, on a felony charge of enabling a minor to drink alcohol resulting in a fatal car crash was deferred for five years.
Murray will be on probation for that time, but if he has no further legal troubles, the felony charge will be expunged from his record.
The sentencing hearing Friday followed Murray’s change of plea in July in Bennington criminal court. He pleaded guilty to the felony and misdemeanor counts of possession of alcohol and providing false information to police in order to implicate another person.
For those charges, Murray was given prison sentences but all of the time was suspended.
Murray will be required to serve 100 hours of community service and, in particular, to speak to groups about what happened in September 2012 when Blair was killed. Those groups are expected to include high school students and people who have been convicted of driving while under the influence of alcohol.
Police said Blair crashed his truck on Mount Anthony Road in Bennington around 2:25 a.m. Sept. 2, 2012. Blair, who was the only person involved in the crash, was pronounced dead at the scene.
The truck had crashed about 75 yards from a camp that belonged to Murray’s family.
Murray admitted that he had hosted a party and that people younger than 21 had been drinking there. But he lied to police and told them only he and Blair were still at the camp before Blair crashed his truck.
During the hearing Friday, defense attorney David Silver said Murray had made a strong effort to stop Blair from driving. Silver said Murray tried to take Blair’s keys and to pull him from the truck, but Blair insisted on driving away from the camp.
Murray apologized for the incident to the court and Blair’s family.
“Randy was obviously one of my best friends,” he said. “Not a day goes by that I don’t think about him. I know that I shouldn’t have had that party. I know if I didn’t have that party, he would probably still be here. I miss him a lot.”
Blair’s sister, Gail Stickle, and father, Randy Blair Sr., were in court Friday. Stickle told the court that she didn’t want Murray to spend time in prison. Both Stickle and Patricia Blair said they believed Murray was covering up what really happened on the night Randy Blair died.
Patricia Blair, Randy’s stepmother, was not in court but submitted a letter, read during the sentencing, in which she asked for a jail term. She said she believed a jail sentence would send a message that might prevent other people in the community younger than 21 from hosting similar drinking parties in the future.
Silver said that after a police investigation and depositions during which people who were at the camp were interviewed, he believed there were no “unanswered questions” about the night’s events.
State’s Attorney Erica Marthage said she had first thought Murray should receive a jail sentence, but after learning more about him decided “this situation needs another response, something other than jail.”
Judge Nancy Corsones said even before she heard the plea agreement that she didn’t expect to sentence Murray to jail. She said that decision might be controversial in the community because of Blair’s death, but she didn’t believe general deterrence worked to prevent teenagers from drinking.