The driver of a car that crashed into a Newton pizzeria and killed two people has decided not to plead guilty to motor vehicle homicide charges, sending the case to trial.
Earlier this month, Middlesex Superior Court Judge Laurence D. Pierce said he would sentence Bradford S. Casler, 56, to two years in jail if he pleaded guilty, writing that he had “caused the death of two innocent people and has forever changed the lives of countless others.”
But in new court documents, Casler’s lawyer said his client had rejected the plea offer.
“After careful consideration, and with all the prior discussions and arguments in this matter in mind, Mr. Casler is not inclined to accept the plea offer that this court has extended and will elect to exercise his right to trial,” his lawyer, Thomas E. Giblin III wrote.
In March 2016, Casler slammed his Volkswagen Tiguan into Sweet Tomatoes Pizza, killing Gregory Morin, 32, and Eleanor Miele, 57. Seven other people were injured.
One eyewitness told police she saw Casler’s SUV weaving through traffic at speeds as high as 70 miles per hour, according to court documents. He was driving about 50 miles an hour when he slammed into the side of the restaurant, causing a 2-ton oven to move nearly 4 feet.
Giblin has contended that Casler lost control of the car when he experienced symptoms of multiple sclerosis and should be not be held criminally responsible. Middlesex County prosecutors have said that Casler knew about the effects of his illness but still chose to drive.
“Despite living with [multiple sclerosis] ... at no time did the defendant take any steps to ensure that he could safely operate his vehicle,” Assistant District Attorney Christopher M. Tarrant wrote in a September motion recommending that Casler be sentenced to jail. “To the contrary, the defendant ignored his limitations in a vain attempt to appear as if they did not exist.”
Middlesex prosecutors declined to comment on Casler’s decision to go to trial because the case is ongoing.
In determining his sentence earlier this month, Pierce said he had considered Casler’s medical condition.
“The court concludes that the defendant is a person of good character who has led a meaningful and productive life, notwithstanding that he suffers from a debilitating condition,’’ Pierce wrote. “I am convinced . . . the defendant has deep remorse for the harm he caused and that his personal health has suffered.”
Still, Pierce said that Casler should spend time behind bars.
“Punishment may include a measure of retribution, but not retaliation or vengeance,” he wrote. “Here some amount of punishment is required.”
Giblin had recommended that Casler be sentenced to six months of home confinement and a lifetime revocation of his driver’s license.John R. Ellement can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe.