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Driver guilty in fatal dragging accident

Gets jail sentence of 12 to 14 years

WORCESTER — Maureen Maloney lives in two worlds, and one of them leaves her with a tortured soul.

In Worcester Superior Court Monday, the mother of Matthew J. Denice of Milford spoke calmly, tears falling from her cheeks, as she awaited sentencing of the man convicted in her son’s August 2011 dragging death on the streets of Milford. Sitting next to her was her other son, Michael Denice.

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“I now live in two worlds,” she said. “One foot in the world with my son Michael and one foot in the afterlife with Matthew. It is a horrible, tortuous life.”

Judge David Ricciardone sentenced Nicolas Dutan Guaman Monday to 12 to 14 years in state prison after the jury-waived trial. The judge found Guaman, 37, a native of Ecuador living in the United States illegally, guilty of manslaughter by motor vehicle in the killing of Matthew Denice, 23.

Denice’s family said that Guaman should be serving life in jail.

Judge Ricciardone, who presided over the four-day trial, found Guaman not guilty of the more serious charge of second-degree murder. The family said it was disappointed in that finding.

Maloney’s voice trembled as she read an impact statement in court. A television monitor showed a baby picture of her deceased son.

“I much prefer to live in my dream world of before his death,” she said. “I live with a deep searing pain in my heart that never goes away.”

Guaman was found guilty of several charges in the Aug. 20, 2011, death of Denice. Guaman’s truck and Denice’s motorcycle collided at Fayette and Congress streets in Milford.

Authorities said the unlicensed and drunk Guaman rolled through a stop sign and struck Denice’s motorcycle, dragging him nearly a quarter-mile to his death. Guaman’s 6-year-old son was in the truck with him.

Guaman was found guilty of vehicular homicide while driving negligently and under the influence of alcohol, leaving the scene of a personal injury accident resulting in death, reckless endangerment of a child, and other charges.

He was sentenced to a concurrent prison term of nine to 10 years in prison for the vehicular homicide charge and 10 years of probation for reckless endangerment of a child and leaving the scene of a personal injury accident.

The remaining charges were filed.

“I hope you all find a way to live, to heal,” Ricciardone told the family.

Although Guaman may be deported, the judge barred him from driving after his release and while on probation.

Defense lawyer Peter L. Ettenberg argued that his client was unaware that Denice was underneath his truck, even as people tried to stop him from driving.

Guaman came to the United States through Mexico in hope of making money for his family in Ecuador, Ettenberg said. He was working as a laborer in Massachusetts.

The defense wanted a sentence of seven to eight years, while prosecutor Jeffrey T. Travers was seeking a roughly 20-year sentence.

Michael Maloney, who said in court that he was Denice’s father, said his son wanted to pursue a career in law enforcement, marry his high school sweetheart, and start a family. That is all gone, Maloney said in his victim impact statement.

“Matthew truly lived his life to the fullest,” he said.

The case against Guaman received attention from area politicians and the news media because he was living in the United State illegally.

“This case has been a lightning rod for many things,” Ettenberg said. “And it is a tragedy that is unspeakable.”

Scott J. Croteau can be reached at scott.croteau@telegram.com. Follow him on Twitter @ScottCroteauTG.
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