Massachusetts Teen Aaron Deveau Found Guilty in Landmark Texting While Driving Case

Aaron Deveau, 18, was the first driver to be charged and convicted of motor vehicle homicide by texting under Massachusetts law.

Prosecutors said Deveau, who pleaded not guilty, was texting on Feb. 20, 2011, when his vehicle swerved across the center line of a Haverhill street and crashed head on into Donald Bowley's truck, killing the 55-year-old father of three.

"My brother received such severe head trauma that ... there was no hope for him," the victim's sister Donna Burleigh testified in Haverhill District Court.

Deveau was charged with motor vehicle homicide and negligent operation of a motor vehicle, using a mobile phone while operating a motor vehicle, reading or sending an electronic message, a marked lanes violation, and two counts of negligent operation and injury from mobile phone use.

Deveau's lawyer argued that there was no evidence the crash caused Bowley's death. When Deveau testified Tuesday he said he was distracted by the amount of homework he had to do and was not sending or reading a text message in the moments before the crash. He said he sent his last text message while parked in the parking lot of the grocery store where he worked. According to Deveau's testimony, his phone remained in the passenger's seat until after the crash, when he called his parents.

But prosecutors argued that Deveau was not paying attention when the vehicles collided. Phone records indicated he sent a text message at 2:34 p.m. and received a response at 2:35 p.m. Police said the crash occurred at 2:36 p.m.

"The defendant sent and received 193 texts on Feb 20, 2011," a prosecutor told the court.

In a videotaped statement recorded after the crash, Deveau, then 17, had a question for police: "If anything happens to them, if one passes away, what would happen to me?"

Texting while driving is a crime in Washington, D.C., and 38 states, including Massachusetts. Deveau faces up to four years in prison.

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