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State trooper pleads not guilty to drunken driving charge

Sept. 22 crash killed mother and daughter

State trooper John  Basler (left) arrived  at Plymouth District Court Thursday for his arraignment.

George Rizer for the Boston Globe

State trooper John Basler (left) arrived at Plymouth District Court Thursday for his arraignment.

PLYMOUTH — A Massachusetts State Police trooper pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges that he was driving drunk when he was involved in a two-car collision that killed a mother and daughter.

John J. Basler, who has been suspended without pay from the department he joined last year, pleaded not guilty in his Plymouth District Court arraignment to operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol and carrying a firearm under the influence of alcohol.

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Basler, 25, walked into the courthouse with a cane and was accompanied by two attorneys and two men in suits.

The arraignment lasted less than two minutes, and there was no further information disclosed about the crash that killed Susan Macchi, 64, and her daughter, Juliet Macchi, 23.

Through his attorneys, Richard Rafferty and Michael Erlich, Basler waived the reading of criminal charges. The office of Plymouth County District Attorney Timothy J. Cruz did not ask for bail.

Judge Brian F. Gilligan ordered Basler released on personal recognizance with the requirement that he not drink alcohol or possess firearms.

Basler, who walked with a limp, was silent during the brief court appearance and did not speak to reporters as he left the courthouse and boarded a waiting SUV.

Richard Macchi Jr. said his mother was a mental health therapist and artist who dabbled in sculpture, painting, photography, and bead-making. His sister was a recent graduate of Harvard University and was planning to move to California to enter the movie business.

Juliet Macchi’s father, Andrew Wells, was in court but declined to comment.

In a report released this week, Plymouth police said the crash happened shortly after midnight Sept. 22 when Basler was driving to his home in Kingston after attending a party in Wareham.

While witnesses at the party told police that Basler consumed one beer during the night, State Police said they later determined that Basler had a blood-alcohol level of 0.19, more than twice the legal limit of 0.08, according to the report.

The crash took place on Federal Furnace Road. Basler’s black Toyota Corolla collided with a Dodge Neon driven by Susan Macchi.

According to the report, one of the responding officers wrote that Macchi’s vehicle crossed the center line and struck Basler’s car.

There were no witnesses, but several people who stopped at the scene after the crash told Plymouth police that heavy rain had broken out several minutes earlier, the police report stated.

When Plymouth police arrived, they found Basler lying on the ground outside of his car, but officers did not believe he had been ejected from the vehicle, the report said.

He told officers that he had no recollection of the crash and that he was employed by the State Police.

Officers found a loaded .45-caliber magazine on the floor of his car and a .45-caliber Auto-Ordnance 1911 pistol in the bushes a dozen feet from the car, according to the report.

Troopers are issued .45-caliber handguns, but State Police said they were not certain the .45-caliber pistol found by Plymouth police was Basler’s department-issued pistol.

Brian MacQuarrie
can be reached at macquarrie@globe.com.
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