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The Boston Globe

Editorial

editorial

Plymouth DA’s case against William Senne violates principle of double jeopardy

It’s understandable why many state troopers want to see William Senne spend more time in prison. In 2003, while he was driving with a blood-alcohol level above the legal limit for an 18-year-old like him, Senne struck trooper Ellen Engelhardt by the side of Route 25 in Wareham. She was left in a permanent vegetative state for years, until she eventually died in 2011. Senne, who was a teenager at the time of the crash, pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the incident in 2005, but served only 2 ½ years, a sentence decried at the time by law enforcement.

Now, the Plymouth County district attorney, Timothy Cruz, is seeking to put Senne back behind bars by using a loophole in the constitutional ban on trying a defendant twice for the same crime. Senne’s 2005 plea was for reckless endangerment and causing bodily injury while driving drunk. Now Cruz is bringing a new charge on the same underlying actions — this time for vehicular homicide, on the reasoning that Engelhardt’s death in 2011 was caused by the 2003 crash. If convicted, Senne could face 15 more years in prison.

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