Woman sentenced to 10-13 years in prison for role in fatal Brockton crash

Danielle Mastro, 35, reads a statement with her attorneys Alison King and James Corbo, at Brockton Superior Court on Friday, Oct. 11, 2019. She was found guilty of motor vehicle manslaughter. (Marc Vasconcellos/The Enterprise)

Pembroke’s Danielle Mastro, who told police she was drunk and dope sick when she got in her car, was convicted on Friday of manslaughter while operating under the influence.

BROCKTON — Danielle Mastro, 35, of Pembroke, received a sentence of 10 to 13 years in prison followed by a year in county jail on Friday for her role in a 2017 fatal car crash.

Brockton Superior Court Judge Angel Kelly handed down both the verdict and the sentence in a trial where Mastro waived her right to a jury. Kelly found Mastro guilty of manslaughter while operating under the influence.

The crash in question claimed the life of Deborah Combra, a 58-year-old Bridgewater woman who was turning into her office’s parking lot when Mastro rear-ended her SUV in October 2017, sending it into the path of a dump truck approaching in the opposite lane, according to witness testimony.

The ensuing head-on collision ejected Combra from the car and killed her. A passenger traveling with Combra survived with a broken leg.

Witnesses testified that Mastro walked away from the scene on Brockton’s Quincy Street while nurses and doctors from a nearby health center rushed to treat the crash’s other victims.

Mastro later told police she initially thought the crash was a fender bender. She’d left the crash scene in a rush to buy heroin, which had been her goal since the morning, she told police, when she stole her mother’s car and evaded a police chase in Hanson on the way to meet her dealer. Mastro also told police she’d drunk six nip bottles of Vodka between 10 a.m. and the time of the crash — an admission later supported by toxicology tests.

Combra’s family and the passenger who broke her leg read victim impact statements on Friday. Tears mixed with seething anger as those close with Combra spoke of their loss.

“Miss Mastro can go to the phone and call and talk with any member of her family but I, on the other hand, I can only go to the grave to talk to a gravestone where Deb is buried and not have her respond to any questions,” said Manny Combra, Deborah’s widowed husband, in a statement read aloud by Russell Eonas, the case’s lead prosecutor.

Manny Combra weeped in the back of the courtroom while listening to his statement.

Deborah Combra’s sisters read tearful impact statements, both of which called for steep sentences for Mastro.

“I will have to render the sentence and that won’t fill the void,” Judge Kelly responded. “I know that and I want you to know that. But I see you all and I hear you and I will take that into consideration when I make a decision.”

Mastro broke into tears as Combra’s sisters described the family milestones that Combra missed after her death, including the marriage of Combra’s youngest son and the birth of her older son’s first child.

Mastro offered an apology of her own when Combra’s friends and relatives were done speaking.

“I think about all of the families who miss Deborah,” Mastro said. “I think about them on holidays. I think about them when I miss my own family.”

“There are no words that will make what I’ve done OK,” she continued. “I know that sorry doesn’t mean much but I am truly sorry.”

Mastro’s attorneys, James Corbo and Allison King, shared a brief biography of their client before sentencing. Mastro had been using opioids since high school, Corbo said, but her habit escalated after transitioning to heroin while a student at Bridgewater State College.

Mastro beat her addiction for five years, maintaining sobriety in her mid-20s while working at her father’s hardware store in Brockton, Corbo said. She later became a manager at Pet Smart.

Around her 30th birthday, Mastro underwent surgery and relapsed into addiction after taking opiates that were prescribed to her for pain relief.

“She said it’s been a ‘s— show’ ever since, in terms of her relapse,” Corbo said, quoting a conversation they had during a jail visit.

Since the fatal car crash in October 2017, Mastro has spent two years in custody awaiting trial. Her parents chose not to post bail, Corbo said.

Mastro’s attorneys said she has received only two infractions in jail — for giving money to a fellow prisoner for commissary and for using an iron to straighten her hair before trial.

Mastro’s immediate family and a handful of close family friends attended the trial.

Kelly spoke directly to Mastro before she imposed a sentence longer than the minimum of five years.

“You are more than the worst thing you’ve ever done,” Kelly said. “So remember that going forward.”

After the sentence was handed down, Manny Combra thanked the judge and prosecutors but said the end of the trial hardly brought relief.

“I’m kind of satisfied but it’s still not enough,” he said. “My wife’s never going to come back.” https://www.enterprisenews.com/news/20191012/woman-sentenced-to-10-13-years-in-prison-for-role-in-fatal-brockton-crash

Hearing continued for man found in hole following Springfield crash

A man cited following following a crash into a utility pole at the Ronez Manor apartment complex Tuesday night has been identified.

Springfield Police say the man is 33-year-old Edin Gonzalez-Velasquez.

He was found sitting at the bottom of a construction hole when police arrived, Springfield Police Sgt. Michael Curtis said.

“It would appear he lost control because he was intoxicated,” Curtis said. “He has a detainer through immigration and customs, so I suspect that is why (he ran and fell into the hole).”

The construction hole was “roped off very well,” Curtis said.

Several beer cans were found in the vehicle he crashed and suspected marijuana was found on the suspect, according to the affidavit filed with the police report.

Gonzalez-Velasquez was taken to Springfield Regional Medical Center for treatment of injuries he suffered in the crash, police said.

“I observed that Mr. Gonzalez-Velasquez had very bloodshot, red, glassy eyes and he had a strong odor of alcoholic beverage coming from his person.” the affidavit said. “When I asked Mr. Gonzalez-Velasquez how much beer he had drank today, he stated he had drank two 24-ounce beers at 6 p.m. or 7 p.m.”

Gonzalez-Velasquez did not have a driving record on file and did not have a driver license that was able to be located, according to the affidavit, which also said he was not the owner of the vehicle.

He was cited for OVI refusal and driving without a license. Gonzalez-Velasquez was ordered into court on Wednesday morning, but the case was continued to a later date, according to court records. https://www.springfieldnewssun.com/news/local/hearing-continued-for-man-found-hole-following-springfield-crash/DFaw8fsSzyvhQlnYj4cNtN/

County Legislator Arrested for Drunk Driving

IOWA  —  State Representative Scott Ourth, a Democrat representing much of Warren County in the Iowa Legislature, is facing an OWI 1st offense charge after his arrest on Saturday in Cherokee County.

According to an arrest report, Ourth was stopped by a Cherokee police officer around 9:30 pm for driving without his headlights on.  The arresting officer said Ourth had a strong smell of alcohol and failed field sobriety tests.  A breathalyzer test showed his blood alcohol level to be .182%.  That is more than twice the legal limit.

This is not Ourth’s first drunk-driving arrest.  Online court records show he was arrested for OWI 2nd offense in Wapello County in 2000.  He was sentenced to seven days in jail after pleading guilty.

Under Iowa law, OWI offenses are measured by the most recent 12 years.  With Ourth’s most recent offense occuring 19 years after his previous arrest he is only facing a charge of OWI 1st offense.

Ourth has served in the Iowa House since 2013. https://whotv.com/2019/10/10/warren-county-legislator-arrested-for-drunk-driving/

Police: Man on Ambien fired shots from his car, crashed after erratic driving in Jefferson County

Photo by: Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office

He told police he took Ambien at around 8 or 9 p.m. but didn’t remember anything else until he was pulled from his truck after the crash.Author: Sam ClancyPublished: 4:17 PM CDT October 15, 2019Updated: 4:17 PM CDT October 15, 2019

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Mo. — A man is facing multiple charges after police said he shot at three cars and crashed into one of them while under the influence of Ambien this weekend.

Trenton Swick, 46, was charged with assault, careless driving, DWI and multiple other charges after police said he went on a reckless driving spree through Jefferson County while on Ambien.

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Deputies with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office said they were called after three people had a scary interaction on Highway 21 near Goldman Road. They noticed a red Toyota Tacoma truck driving erratically, and passed it. The truck, which charging documents said was being driven by Swick, then sped up to catch up with them. The passengers said they heard what sounded like a rock hitting their car and saw the truck’s passenger side window shatter. The door of the car had a bullet hole which would cost about $1,000 to fix.

Police said Swick continued on Highway 21 to Highway B, where another man saw the truck stopped in the middle of the road. The man then heard multiple gunshots. He said Swick then drove up right next to him and fired multiple shots at his car, causing $1,000 worth of damage.

Swick continued driving on Highway B and eventually crossed the center line and crashed into another driver. The passengers of the car he hit said they heard a gunshot before Swick’s truck swerved in an attempt to get out of the way. Both cars ended up off the road, and the car that was struck also had a hole in the windshield that appeared to be a gunshot hole.

A bullet was found in the car and the passenger suffered injuries, but deputies do not know if the injuries were from a gunshot or the crash.

Police also said they found a handgun near Swick’s car with an empty magazine and five spent shell casings. Police said Swick appeared to be intoxicated when they spoke with him after the crash. 

Before he was taken to the hospital for treatment, Swick told police he was being chased before the crash and fired his gun in self-defense.

At the hospital, Swick was tested for drugs.

The day after the crash, police talked to Swick again and he waived his Miranda Rights. He told police he took Ambien at around 8 or 9 p.m. but didn’t remember anything else until he was pulled from his truck after the crash. He told police he did not remember seeing spent shell casings in his truck the last time he drove it.

Swick was charged with DWI, first-degree assault, armed criminal action, unlawful use of a weapon, careless and imprudent driving and property damage. His bond was set at $100,000. https://www.ksdk.com/article/news/crime/ambien-crazy-driving-shooting-gun-jefferson-county/63-8dfda863-de78-472a-bfcf-096081612be7

Lawyers want blood test thrown out in DUI case

Scott Gragson, center, walks out of court with his attorneys, Richard Schonfeld, left, and Davi ...

Lawyers for real estate broker Scott Gragson, charged in a DUI crash that left a woman dead and others injured, want his blood alcohol test thrown out.

In a motion filed Thursday, defense attorneys David Chesnoff and Richard Schonfeld argued that Gragson’s blood was tested beyond a two-hour window from when police arrived at the scene of the May crash in the affluent Summerlin community known as The Ridges.

Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson declined to comment, saying he had not yet seen the motion.

A mother of three, Melissa Newton, was killed in the wreck, while three others in Gragson’s vehicle were injured. Newton’s family and the other crash victims have filed lawsuits against Gragson.

Gragson, 53, faces one count of DUI resulting in death, three counts of DUI resulting in substantial bodily harm and four counts of reckless driving. He has pleaded not guilty.

His blood was not drawn until more than three hours after the crash, even though a warrant was obtained before two hours had passed.

Gragson’s arrest report states that the first blood draw three hours after the crash measured his blood alcohol content at 0.147 percent, nearly twice the legal limit for drivers in Nevada. He admitted to Metropolitan Police Department officers that he drank for about five hours at a charity golf event, consuming “four to five mixed drinks” and Coors beers, before the crash, his arrest report said.

Under Nevada law, blood evidence drawn more than two hours after a DUI crash is not presumptive of the blood alcohol level.

An officer who responded to the crash blamed the delay on a “complicated” scene, traffic and “problems” getting a warrant, police reports show.

“The search warrant for the blood testing was defective, as there was no probable cause to take the blood beyond two hours, and the officer presented no evidence of exigency,” Chesnoff and Schonfeld wrote.

Last month, Gragson’s lawyers asked to have an indictment against him thrown out, arguing that prosecutors presented improper evidence to a grand jury and failed to reveal details that could show his innocence.