News Feature

Web exclusive, March 6, 2017
Castine man charged with manslaughter in November car crash

by Anne Berleant

Francis “Joe” Spinazola, 55, has been charged with Class A manslaughter, Class B Aggravated OUI and Class D Criminal OUI, the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office announced in a March 8 press release. The charges follow the investigation of a November 19 single-car accident in Castine that killed 56-year-old Ronald Bakeman, of Orland. Spinazola, who was driving the vehicle at the time of the crash, will be arraigned on the charges on April 4 in Hancock County District Court in Ellsworth.

A second passenger, Cheryl Spinazola, suffered non-life-threatening injuries. Both passengers were ejected from the vehicle after Spinazola, traveling north on Castine Road, failed to negotiate a long right curve, crossed into the southbound travel lane and drove for more than 300 feet on the shoulder before rolling his 2003 GMC Envoy multiple times. Neither passenger was wearing seatbelts, according to an HCSO press release issued after the accident.

The nearly four months that elapsed between the accident and the charges was likely to allow for the crime lab or coroner to report back on evidence submitted by the sheriff’s department, District Attorney Matt Foster said in January.

“I am sure they are trying to be thorough…Chemical testing can take up to four months to get back,” Foster said.

A person is found guilty of manslaughter if he recklessly or with criminal negligence causes the death of another person and, as a Class A felony, is punishable by a prison term of up to 30 years. If alcohol is involved, it may also result in the permanent loss of the person’s driver’s license.

Class B Aggravated OUI is charged when the blood alcohol content of the driver is 0.15 percent or more, or if the driver was traveling 30 miles per hour or more over the speed limit. Class B crimes are punishable for a prison term not to exceed 10 years.

Class D OUI, a misdemeanor, is charged when a blood alcohol content is 0.08 percent or more, and is punishable by a jail term less than one year.

Spinazola, a Castine resident, serves on of the Castine School Board, is chairman of the School Union 93 board, and is technology coordinator at RSU 24, which includes Bucksport, Orland and Verona Island.

Foster was not available for immediate comment on the charges.

Editor’s note: This article had been updated from its original content to include additional information.