PORTLAND, Maine - Prosecutors may introduce evidence about a Massachusetts man's alcohol consumption before a boat collision that killed two people on Long Lake, a judge ruled.
Prosecutors say Robert LaPointe's blood alcohol content was 0.11 percent three hours after the crash last summer in Harrison. Maine's alcohol limit for driving is 0.08 percent.
But lawyers for LaPointe contend that the evidence was unreliable because the blood sample wasn't refrigerated and wasn't delivered to a lab until 34 hours after the crash. A state chemist testified that blood samples are often not refrigerated and chemicals are used to prevent bacteria in the samples.
Justice Robert Crowley told LaPointe's defense lawyers that they can make their case about the quality of the alcohol test during the trial, which is scheduled to begin Sept. 8.
Prosecutors say LaPointe was driving his 32-foot powerboat between 45 and 50 miles per hour after dark on Aug. 11, 2007, when his boat ran over a smaller vessel. The occupants of the smaller boat, Terry Raye Trott, 55, of Naples, and Suzanne Groetzinger, 44, of Berwick, were killed.
Both LaPointe, of Medway, Mass., and his passenger, Nicole Randall, 19, of Bridgton, suffered minor injuries and swam to shore.
LaPointe, who is free on $100,000 bond, has pleaded not guilty to two counts of manslaughter.
The accident generated extensive news coverage and prompted questions as to whether boats like LaPointe's, which was equipped with twin, 435-horsepower engines, are appropriate for use on Maine lakes.
Defense lawyers say media coverage has created a "climate of hostility" toward the defendant, but Crowley hasn't ruled on a motion to move the trial from Portland.
Crowley said that any decision on changing the venue would probably happen at the start of jury selection. At that point, he would be able to gauge the impact of publicity on potential jurors and to review the extent of media coverage.