HAVERHILL – The small courtroom in Haverhill District Court here has one long bench in the front, which puts spectators as close as possible to where the defendant sits and to the dais where Judge Stephen Abany sits as he presides over the trial.
Today one end of the bench was filled by Aaron Deveau’s relatives, including his parents and a grandmother. At the other end were the children of Donald Bowley Jr., who suffered fatal injuries when Deveau crashed head-on into Bowley’s car on Feb. 20, 2011.
The bench was the the literal embodiment of the metaphorical scales of justice.
As the guilty verdicts were announced, people sitting at the end of the bench occupied by Deveau’s relatives dropped their heads and started to cry. At the other end of the bench, Bowley’s sister, his children, and his girlfriend, Luz Roman, smiled slightly and exchanged congratulatory hugs and kisses.
The emotions were equally strong — and equally opposite — when Abany sentenced Deveau to spend at least a year behind bars following his conviction for motor vehicle homicide and negligent operation of a motor vehicle causing serious bodily injury while texting.
Following the convictions, Roman, Bowley’s sister, and one of Bowley’s three adult children delivered victim impact statements. His daughter, Dawn Bowley, gave an emotionally wrenching account of what her father looked like in the 18 days he lingered at a Boston hospital following the crash.
Bowley’s veins seemed to glow as he lay, unconscious, in his hospital bed, she said. He could not speak because of the tubes put into his throat to assist in his breathing; his damaged teeth had been removed to clear a way for the tubes, she said.
“I lost my marbles a couple of times after my Dad died,’’ Dawn Bowley said. “I kept waking up at night thinking I was stuck in the hospital elevators.’’
She said that her father’s brain swelled as his condition worsened.
“His brain was pulsating like a heart the last day he was with us,’’ she said.
After his death, Bowley’s remains were cremated. Dawn Bowley said her daughter was so devastated by the death of her grandfather that she took the urn into her own bedroom.
“My daughter slept with his ashes until we buried him,’’ Dawn Bowley said. “She couldn’t let go.’’
Deveau was ordered to spend at a least a year behind bars and was removed from the courtroom in handcuffs.
A few moments later, his mother briefly spoke to reporters, shaking uncontrollably as she did.
“This past year has been an absolute tragedy, not only for our family but the Bowley family and Miss Roman as well,’’ she said.
Gathering herself, she described her son as a “very reliable’’ person who worked at two jobs — one at a Market Basket supermarket, and the second, at a nursing home.
“He would never, ever intentionally hurt anybody,’’ she said.