Teen Charged in Horrific 2013 Arborway Crash Withdraws Plea, Opts to Stand Trial Instead

Nikolas Papadopoulos, right, stands beside his lawyer Robert Tobin Jr. during a hearing at West Roxbury District Court on Nov. 14, 2014.
Nikolas Papadopoulos, right, stands beside his lawyer Robert Tobin Jr. during a hearing at West Roxbury District Court on Nov. 14, 2014. –Patrick Whittemore/Pool

Nikolas Papadopoulos, 19, seemed ready to accept responsibility for a devastating September 2013 car crash that injured six people, two in life-changing ways, at a hearing in West Roxbury Municipal Court on Friday.

Until, apparently, he watched an emotional video statement recorded by Tina Cellucci, the wife of Kevin Cellucci, one of the worst-injured victims. The statement detailed the impact of the crash on their family, which includes three children.

Minutes later, Papadopoulos, who is charged with negligent operation of a motor vehicle, withdrew his plea to sufficient facts and opted to go to trial, The Boston Globe reports.

A defendant can enter a plea to sufficient facts to warrant a guilty finding without actually pleading guilty, according to WBUR’s OpenCourt.

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Prosecutors say Papadopoulos, a West Roxbury resident, was speeding down the Arborway in Jamaica Plain at up to 80 miles per hour on Sept. 6, 2013 when his Mazda Tribute clipped the media strip and began to roll, eventually landing on the oncoming Ford F-150 driven by Kevin Cellucci, now 34, of Dorchester.

This is what the scene looked like after the crash.

The once-active Cellucci, who was hospitalized and placed in a medically-induced coma after the crash, can no longer eat, stand, walk, or communicate on his own. His injuries require lifelong treatment, according to prosecutors. Cellucci and his passenger, who was treated and released from the hospital at the time with less serious injuries, were both wearing seatbelts.

Then 18, Papadopoulos and a 15-year-old passenger were wearing seatbelts, while two 14-year-old passengers weren’t. One of those 14-year-olds, Mark Delamere, now 16, was ejected, suffering traumatic brain and spine injures. He will never walk again.

Papadopoulos’ lawyer claims that his client also suffered a “serious brain injury’’ and does not remember the crash.

He had only had his license for three months when the crash occurred.

Typically, Judge Mary Ann Driscoll wouldn’t jail someone for a first-time motor offense, but in this case she said it was appropriate for the state to seek a two-year sentence for Papadopoulos given the “catastrophic effects’’ of the crash.

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Driscoll had planned to hand down a sentence of two years in jail with one year to serve until Papadopoulos withdrew his plea, choosing to take a chance standing trial instead.

The court date is set for March 3.

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