Teen Guilty of Homicide, Texting While Driving

By Andrew Chow, Esq. on June 07, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A Massachusetts teenager has been convicted of motor-vehicle homicide in the state's first-ever trial for texting while driving.

Aaron Deveau, 18, of Haverhill, Mass., denied he was sending or receiving text messages in the moments before a fatal crash in 2011, CNN reports.

But prosecutors argued Deveau was indeed texting when his car veered across the center line and hit an oncoming car. That car's driver was placed on life support and later died; a passenger was seriously hurt.

"I was tired. I was distracted," Aaron Deveau, then 17, said in a taped interview with police that was played for jurors in court. But Deveau insisted he was distracted by thinking about his homework, not by text messages, Boston's WHDH-TV reports.

To prove Deveau had been texting while driving, prosecutors showed jurors his cell phone records, which revealed the teenager sent 193 text messages the day of the crash.

Deveau's defense lawyer, however, argued there was no evidence Deveau was holding the phone when the crash occurred.

But the prosecutor countered that proof wasn't necessary. "His negligence happened the moment he let his mind get distracted by whatever," the prosecutor said, according to The Boston Globe.

Under Massachusetts law, a driver can face criminal consequences for texting while driving if a person is injured in a crash. Texting can also fulfill the negligence element for a motor-vehicle homicide charge.

In Aaron Deveau's motor-vehicle homicide and texting-while-driving convictions, his defense attorney claimed prosecutors set out to make his client's case an example, despite a lack of evidence that texting caused the crash. Deveau was sentenced to one year in jail; his license will be suspended for 15 years, according to The Eagle-Tribune.

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