Southfield man charged with OUI homicide in death of motorcyclist in Sheffield

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GREAT BARRINGTON — A Southfield man facing manslaughter and drunken driving charges for a crash that killed a motorcyclist Wednesday afternoon now is hospitalized for a psychiatric condition caused by his military service in Iraq.

Kristopher Laine, 39, could not attend his arraignment in Southern Berkshire District Court on Thursday morning because he entered treatment after the accident that killed John Howard, 70, of Bethlehem, Conn., said Richard Dohoney, deputy district attorney.

Jessica Laine, Laine's wife, told Judge Jennifer Tyne that her husband is hospitalized in Connecticut and will be transferred to a Veterans Affairs hospital where he previously has been treated.

Laine, who was released Wednesday on $1,000 bail and does not yet have an attorney, will be arraigned June 6 instead.

Howard was pronounced dead at the scene after Laine's truck crossed the center line and struck him on Canaan Road at about 2:20 p.m., throwing Howard from his motorcycle and into a driveway, according to the accident report by Sheffield Police.

One witness told police that Laine was traveling westbound at high speed; another said he had watched Laine get out of his truck and try to hide a partially consumed 24-pack of Michelob Ultra between a bush and a fence.

Police say they found 17 "ice cold" beers remaining.

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Laine, who was cleared for physical injuries at the scene, reeked of alcohol, police said, and showed other signs of intoxication. He declined a field sobriety test, but a later Breathalyzer test indicated his blood alcohol level to be 0.13 percent.

Laine later told Sheffield Police that Howard had crossed the center line and also expressed remorse.

Jessica Laine had told police that her husband was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder from his three tours of duty in Iraq.

"Mrs. Laine told me that her husband has drinking problems and stated she was very worried about him," wrote an officer. "She asked if he was sober this evening."

Kristopher Laine is unemployed, according to the routine suicide evaluation form in the police report, which also marked Laine as "low risk." His driver's license had expired May 1.

Berkshire District Attorney Andrea Harrington was at the scene Wednesday, along with state police units. The accident is under investigation.

Laine is charged with motor vehicle homicide/operating under the influence-liquor, marked-lanes violation and unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle.

Heather Bellow can be reached at hbellow@berkshireeagle.com or on Twitter @BE_hbellow and 413-329-6871.


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