PITTSFIELD -- The Pittsfield man at the wheel in a car crash that took the life of his fiancée in 2012 was sentenced to a year in jail and lost his license for 15 years.
Before handing down the sentence on Wednesday, Superior Court Judge John A. Agostini said the events of May 26, 2012, were "inevitable" based on Shaun M. Race’s poor driving record that included six accidents.
Race was driving a Jeep Cherokee on a suspended license when he failed to negotiate a curve at the West Road intersection of Route 7 in Lee. The Jeep left the road, crossed a driveway, hit a tree on the passenger side, and flipped several times.
Mayra Demedeiros, 30, who had removed her seat belt earlier, was thrown from the vehicle.
"It rolled on top of her, killing her instantly," said Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Gregory Barry.
A witness called it an "avoidable crash" and told police the Jeep didn’t appear to swerve, brake, or slow down before going off the road.
The couple’s 6-week-old child, who was strapped into a car carrier, was uninjured. Race had a broken nose and collarbone, among his injuries, and was treated at Berkshire Medical Center, according to his attorney.
"This went beyond an accident. It was an act of negligence," said Barry. He asked for a year in jail for Race, a sentence Demedeiros’ family agreed with.
Demedeiros’ parents, in a letter read aloud in court, said their lives "changed forever" the day of the crash and they "never had a chance to say good-bye" to their daughter. If not for Race’s "extremely reckless" behavior, their daughter would "still be here today," the parents wrote.
Race pleaded guilty to single counts of motor vehicle homicide while operating to endanger and driving with a suspended license.
Race’s attorney, Timothy J. Shugrue, calling it a "terrible tragedy," said his client is "devastated" by the loss of the love of his life and has suffered mentally and physically.
Race wouldn’t have been driving that day, but Demedeiros began feeling sick, took off her seat belt and got into the back, said the lawyer.
The baby began crying and Race briefly took his eyes of the road and lost control, according to the attorney.
"This was a horrible accident on a bad roadway," said Shugrue. "All it takes is a split second."
The attorney said that spot in the road is "God awful" and has been the site of many accidents. Race wasn’t speeding at the time, he said.
Shugrue read a letter from Race in which the defendant apologized to Demedeiros’ family and said he would change places with Demedeiros if he could.
Shugrue asked for a 30-day suspended sentence and a year of probation for Race.
Agostini, citing the defendant’s driving record that had entries numbered in the "high 20s," sentenced Race to one year at the Berkshire County Jail & House of Correction. Race also lost his license to drive for 15 years.
Charges of driving a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs and child endangerment while operating under the influence were dismissed at the request of the prosecution.
"In no way was my client under the influence of drugs or alcohol" at the time of the accident, said Shugrue.
The investigation was handled by the Lee Police Department.
Race is still facing charges of felony larceny from a person and misdemeanor assault and battery for allegedly hitting a woman and taking her computer tablet earlier this month. He denies those charges.
Race’s lawyer in that case alleged the complaining witness has mental health issues and is obsessed with Race.
Shugrue called the case "ridiculous" and believed the charges would eventually be dismissed.
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