Adams woman pleads not guilty to fatally striking pedestrian while drunk

NORTH ADAMS — An Adams woman pleaded not guilty to motor vehicle homicide charges on Monday after she allegedly struck a pedestrian on East Hoosac Street who later died from his injuries.

Debra Milesi, 57, allegedly attempted to flee the scene after she hit Jerome "Jeremy" Berard with her vehicle on East Hoosac Road at about 1:15 a.m. on Sept. 29.

Berard, 38, of North Adams was pronounced dead at Berkshire Medical Center shortly before midnight on Oct. 7.

Before they were aware of any accident, police were called to Milesi's home at about 1 a.m. by her mother, who asked for a well-being check because Milesi had made suicidal comments, according to the police report filed by Adams Police Officer Dakota Baker.

Milesi was not at home and her vehicle was gone when officers arrived, but they noticed an empty pill bottle in the kitchen. On the kitchen counter, they found two more pill bottles next to a large bottle of brandy.

Officers agreed to continue their search for Milesi at nearby bars on Summer Street.

Baker spotted a crowd of people near 26 East Hoosac St. and Milesi's Chevrolet HHR. A man pointed at Milesi's car and yelled at Baker to "go get her" as it began to pull away from the scene. Baker then stopped her vehicle.

Milesi allegedly had "very slurred speech" and, at one point, almost fell into an officer as she tried to exit her vehicle. Her eyes were bloodshot, police reported, and she smelled strongly of alcohol.

When questioned by police, Milesi denied striking anyone with her car, despite damage to her windshield.

As Adams Ambulance personnel responded to the scene, Berard was visibly injured and bleeding.

Officers spoke with witnesses, who described Milesi as speeding west down East Hoosac Street before striking Berard, sending him about 20 feet through the air, and a blue Ford Focus.

Milesi allegedly pulled a U-turn at the bottom of the street and returned to the victim, where a witness told police Milesi allegedly attempted to drag his body to the side of the road and yelled for help. When the witness told Milesi to stop, she allegedly got back into her vehicle and began to drive away just as police were arriving on scene.

Milesi, who became unresponsive while in the rear of a police cruiser, was also treated by medical personnel and taken to Berkshire Medical Center.

Testing conducted at Berkshire Medical Center showed Milesi had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.161 percent, more than twice the legal limit, according to the police report.

Milesi, of Jordan Street, pleaded not guilty in Northern Berkshire District Court on Monday to single counts of motor vehicle homicide while operating under the influence of alcohol, leaving the scene of personal injury, and negligent operation of a motor vehicle.

She was released on $1,000 cash bail.

The conditions of her release set by Judge William Rota mandate that Milesi not operate a motor vehicle or leave the state of Massachusetts, be confined to her home at all times, and be subject to GPS monitoring.

She is next scheduled to appear in court on Oct. 22 for a pretrial hearing.

Adam Shanks can be reached at, at @EagleAdamShanks on Twitter, or 413-629-4517.