Lone survivor of deadly 2016 crash cleared of manslaughter charges

Experts revisit DNA evidence, rule out original connection to driver
By Ethan Andrews | Dec 04, 2018
Courtesy of: Maine State Police Damaged pickup truck, pictured Sept. 3, 2016, after the vehicle crashed into a utility pole on North Searsport Road and rolled over several times, ejecting all three occupants and killing two of them.

Belfast — A Winterport man was cleared of manslaughter and drunk driving charges stemming from a fatal crash in 2016 after experts concluded he probably wasn't the driver.

Adam Littlefield, 33, was one of three men in a pickup truck on Sept. 3, 2016, when the vehicle crashed into a utility pole on North Searsport Road and rolled over several times, ejecting all of the occupants. Killed in the crash were the owner of the truck, 59-year-old John Moriarty of Bangor, and 35-year-old Brad Pomeroy of Searsport.

Littlefield survived but sustained brain trauma and a significant loss of memory around the time of the crash, according to a medical evaluation. His mother was later appointed as his guardian.

Police did not immediately know who was driving the pickup, but in 2017 Littlefield was indicted by a grand jury on two counts of manslaughter and two counts of causing death as a result of operating under the influence.

Court records show that his attorney, Laurence Willey, initially tried to have the charges dismissed on grounds that police violated Littlefield's right to privacy when they searched the vehicle without a warrant and destroyed the truck before the defense could examine it. Willey later attempted to learn whether state prosecutors charged Littlefield in response to political pressure from relatives or the insurer of the estates of the deceased.

The major charges ultimately were dismissed after an expert hired by the defense reviewed the state's findings, and in consultation with the state's expert, came to the conclusion that it could not be proven Littlefield was the driver, according to attorneys from both sides.

The state's case had rested on the discovery of DNA from Littlefield on the driver's airbag, Assistant District Attorney Neil McLean said. But based on the point of impact and the principal direction of force, he said, the experts couldn't determine who was driving. McLean said Littlefield was probably in the center seat, between the driver and passenger.

"The important part from our vantage point is that (the charges) weren't dismissed as part of any plea," he said. "It was never part of a plea to dismiss those. It's a part of honestly following the evidence where it leads us."

Willey expressed a similar confidence in the process and commended the prosecution for working with the contradictory findings of defense's expert.

"They listened and they took it very seriously," he said.

Littlefield, who appeared in court in prison attire from Two Bridges Regional Jail, has been serving time for prior driving offenses, and on Dec. 3 was sentenced on unrelated charges, based on testimony of a witness who saw him driving in Stockton Springs earlier on the day of the crash.

He pleaded no contest to operating after revocation, a Class C felony, for which Superior Court Justice Robert Murray sentenced him to 3 ½ years and ordered him to pay a fine of $1,000. He was given three concurrent six-month sentences for violating conditions of release by driving.

Littlefield also pleaded guilty to two charges from 2015, when he was pulled over in Winterport for a noisy exhaust and found to be in violation of restrictions from prior driving convictions. On Dec. 3, Murray sentenced him to two years and ordered to pay $1,000 fine for operating after revocation, with six months to be served concurrently for violating a condition of release.

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