Driver sentenced to 4 years in jail for deadly Newton restaurant crash

WOBURN, MASS. (WHDH) - A man who killed two people and injured seven when he crashed his car into a Newton pizza shop in March 2016 was sentenced Tuesday to four years in the Middlesex House of Corrections followed by 15 years of probation.

Bradford Casler, 57, was sentenced Tuesday after a Superior Court jury found him guilty last month of two counts of motor vehicle homicide and one count of negligent operation in connection with the fatal crash at Sweet Tomatoes, which claimed the lives of a 32-year-old Gregory Morin and a 57-year-old Eleanor Miele, who were eating inside the restaurant.

Given Casler’s struggle with multiple sclerosis, Judge Merita Hopkins deemed his decision to drive negligent and not intentional, handing out a sentence of 2.5 years for each vehicular homicide charge, with one year suspended.

Hopkins said that she considered the quality of care provided to inmates with disabilities before handing down the sentence. The prosecution was seeking up seven years behind bars.

Hopkins also highlighted a statement made by Casler during the trial in which he explained that he had suffered from serious leg pain just weeks before the crash. She said the nature and circumstances surrounding the incident made it clear that it was not an accident and an act deserving of punishment.

Casler’s probation conditions include orders to not operate a motor vehicle and not to apply for the reinstatement of his driver’s license, which has since been revoked by the state. He said during the trial that he had no intention of driving again.

Casler was sentenced after emotional impact statements from Morin’s widow and Miele’s brother.

Erica Morin was the first to take the stand. She described how incredibly difficult that last two years of her life have been.

“It remains impossible to adequately describe Greg and to explain how difficult the past two years and eight months have been,” she said. “There’s not a single aspect of my life that has not been affected.”

She went on to say that the crash stripped her of her “husband, partner and best friend” and robbed her of the “chance to be a family.”

Thomas Desmond, Miele’s brother, told the court that he was stunned to learn of his sister’s death.

“I was stunned. She lived in Watertown. Why was she at a restaurant in West Newton? I later learned that she had stopped there for dinner en route to a charitable event at her parish church,” he said. “As I called my brother Richard to inform him of the tragedy, I could still hear his audible gasp.”

Wiping away tears prior to his sentencing, Casler took the stand after the impact statements were delivered, expressing a desire to help prevent similar incidents in the future while explaining that he cannot recall the crash.

“At some point, I would like to take the bull by the horns and really try to make a difference so there are other families that do not have to be here in this situation,” he said. “I try to recall the accident, which I’m not all sure that happened. I know the injuries that I had, a broken left elbow and some other things, those are gone. But my emotional scars will never leave.”

Casler went on to say that he was never told not drive and said it was never his intention to put the public in harm’s way.

Casler’s attorneys requested that his sentence be stayed, asking he be held under home confinement pending an appeal.

The motion was denied by Hopkins.

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