Thursday June 7, 2012

PITTSFIELD - The case against Meredith Nilan was continued without a finding for six months on Wednesday in the pedestrian versus car accident last December that left a city man with a broken neck and other injuries.

In Central Berkshire District Court, Nilan, the 24-year-old daughter of the chief of probation at Berkshire Superior Court, entered a guilty plea on a charge of misdemeanor negligent operation of a motor vehicle, which, based upon a plea deal, was converted to a continuation without a finding of guilt. A count of leaving the scene of a personal injury accident was dismissed.

Nilan admitted that she was driving her father's car the evening of Dec. 8 when she struck 46-year-old Peter Moore on Winesap Road as he walked his dog.

Meredith Nilan enters Central Berkshire District Court in Pittsfield on Wednesday. Her case in connection with a December hit-and-run crash that injured a
Meredith Nilan enters Central Berkshire District Court in Pittsfield on Wednesday. Her case in connection with a December hit-and-run crash that injured a local man was continued without a finding for six months, her driving was restricted for 30 days, and she must write a letter of apology. (Ben Garver / Berkshire Eagle) (Ben Garver)
Moore, who suffered a minor traumatic brain injury and a broken neck, among other injuries, was hit from behind, went up onto Nilan's front hood and smashed into her windshield. Nilan denied seeing anybody in the road, but later returned to the area looking for any signs of the crash.

"This wasn't a hit and run, it was a case of negligent operation. That's what it should have been from the beginning," said Nilan's attorney, Timothy Shugrue. "It was an accident. She didn't mean to hurt him."

Moore managed to walk home sometime after the accident and went to Berkshire Medical Center early the next morning to be treated for his injuries. At the time, suffering from a brain injury and shock, Moore thought he had avoided the collision.

According to Shugrue, on the night of the accident, Nilan waited to speak with the police, but they never showed up because they had gotten the wrong address from the dispatcher. The next day, she allowed herself to be interviewed and allowed police to search the car.

"She completely complied with the police," Shugrue said.

Moore's attorney, Michael Hinkley, issued a statement after Wednesday's hearing.

"As the victim in this case, Peter was consulted prior to the entry of the defendant's plea; however, his interests and focus remain on his recovery and his family," the statement said. "At the same time, Peter continues to evaluate his options for full and fair adjudication of the charges within the civil realm."

In a plea deal between Joseph A. Quinlan, a Worcester-based assistant district attorney appointed to prosecute the case, and Shugrue, the case was continued without a finding of guilt for six months after a guilty plea was entered. If she stays out of trouble during that time, the case will be dismissed.

For the six months, she will be on administrative probation, meaning she doesn't have to meet with a probation officer. Nilan also must write Moore an apology and admit her negligence.

She is also not supposed to drive between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. for 30 days.

Judge Michael Mulcahy added the condition that she attend and complete a safe driver course.

The defendant's father, Clifford Nilan, was in court to support his daughter.

The charges against Meredith Nilan came via an appeal following a Jan. 12 show cause hearing before Westfield Clerk Magistrate Nathan Byrnes who found "no probable cause" to allow the charges to go forward. Springfield Dis trict Court Judge William P. Hadley decided the case warranted pressing the charges and overturned the earlier decision to halt them.

In a related case, a Las Vegas man with ties to the Berkshires has been charged with threatening Meredith Nilan's life.

Trevor J. Moore, 31, allegedly made a number of phone calls in February and March to the Nilan residence in which he told the family that he was going to "make sure that she's taken care of if the justice system doesn't come through this time," among other related threats.

Trevor J. Moore, who is not related to Peter Moore, is scheduled to be arraigned on June 27 in Central Berkshire District Court.

The disposition agreement in Commonwealth V. Meredith D. Nilan ...

Nilan