By Lisa Redmond
AYER -- Nearly two years after a fatal car crash that killed a 67-year-old Ayer woman, a Lowell man who admitted he fell asleep behind the wheel, triggering the accident, was found not guilty of misdemeanor motor-vehicle homicide.
After a two-day trial in Ayer District Court, a jury Oct. 9 cleared Xavier Roman, 23, of negligence in the Nov. 15, 2011, crash on Route 2A (Littleton Road) in Ayer that claimed the life of Claire Boudreau.
Both sides agreed there was little dispute over the facts of the case. When Ayer Police Officer Matthew Callahan arrived at the crash scene at 5:45 a.m., he found a box truck on its side and Roman trapped inside the truck with minor injuries. Roman asked the officer if the other driver was alright. It was then that Callahan saw the mangled Toyota Prius crushed under the overturned truck. Boudreau, who was on her way to work as an accountant at Technology Corp. in Carlisle, was dead.
During the trial, Boudreau's friends and family crowded into one side of the courtroom. Boudreau was a Girl Scout leader for 45 years and a driving force in the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
Roman admitted he dozed off for a moment, veered into the other lane and hit the Prius head on, causing the truck to flip. There were no drugs or alcohol involved in the crash and speed was not a factor.
During her opening statement, prosecutor Laura Miller told the jury that Roman didn't intentionally cause the crash that killed Boudreau, but that her death was due to his negligence that morning.
Defense attorney Thomas Combs said this accident was terrible, but "it was an accident, not homicide."
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