By Erin Place
PARIS—Kristina Lowe will spend 18 months in prison and will then be on probation for four years, Active Retired Justice Robert Clifford announced at her sentencing hearing in Oxford County Superior Court on Wednesday—but she will not step foot inside a jail cell until the appeals process is over.
The actual sentence Lowe received for her manslaughter convictions in the deaths of two West Paris teens in a high-speed crash in 2012 was eight years for the manslaughter convictions, to be served concurrently, with all but 18 months suspended and three years of probation. Clifford further gave her a four year suspended sentence for leaving the scene of an accident and one year probation, with special conditions that include no use of drugs or alcohol, drug testing, counseling and no operation of a vehicle without a license.
In May, a jury of seven women and five men found the now 21-year-old Lowe of Oxford guilty of two charges of manslaughter and leaving the scene of a fatal accident, all felonies, in the deaths of 16-year-old Rebecca Mason and 20-year-old Logan Dam. She was found not guilty on two counts of criminal operating under the influence.
Assistant District Attorney Joseph O’Connor, who co-tried the case with ADA Richard Beauchesne, asked for the maximum sentence for the manslaughter convictions of 10 years to run concurrently, all but five years suspended and four years of probation. For the leaving the scene of the accident, he requested five years all suspended and one year of probation with special conditions.
Defense attorney James Howaniec asked for a suspended sentence for his client—which means she would serve no jail time—and community service where Lowe would speak to teens about her experience with the fatal accident.
In court Wednesday, Deb Sande, Dam’s mother, spoke fondly of her only son and of the void that she experiences every day in his absence.
“He was my sunshine on the rainiest day of my life,” she said, through tears. Sande, along with other of the victims’ family members, accused Lowe not showing remorse or taking responsibility for her role in the fatal accident.
“I feel that Kristina Lowe tried to get out of this since the moment of impact. It could have been different for Doug and I if she had taken some kind of responsibility,” Sande said about Logan’s father, Doug.
Rebecca Mason’s mother, Tracie Mason, asked Lowe to look at her and see the face of a mother who had lost her baby girl, and told Lowe she didn’t know if she could ever forgive her.
“What I absolutely can’t fathom is leaving those precious children in the car, the dead and dying,” Tracy Mason said, referring to a fact that was repeatedly brought up by the prosecution during trial. Lowe and surviving fourth passenger, Jacob Skaff, walked past roughly two dozen houses the night of the accident to return to the party before 911 was called. “My daughter made several mistakes that night, but she would have never left anyone in the car.”
Rebecca Mason’s father, Jerrold Mason, first began his statement by addressing his late daughter.
“I find myself looking blankly off in the distance, remembering what was and wondering what could have been,” he said. “You were my little angel. They say time heals all wounds. They have not been shot in the gut like I have.”
He then turned his comments to Lowe, telling her his family has been ripped apart by cowardly actions on that cold January night in 2012.
“I hope you live to 150 years old and your actions haunt you every day,” Jerrold Mason said.
Speaking for Lowe were her boyfriend’s parents, Deborah and Michael Boss. Lowe and their son, Michael Murphy, have a one-year-old daughter together, Madalyn.
“Kristina lives every day with the pain and suffering of that terrible accident. There are no words for the remorse she feels,” Deborah Boss said. “This accident has already caused too many families too much pain and suffering. Sending Kristina to jail will only perpetuate that by tearing Kristina from Madalyn.”
Michael Boss expressed his family’s sincerest sympathy to the Mason and Dam families and said Lowe wishes she could change how things ended up.
“If Kristina could trade places with Logan and Rebecca, she would,” he said. “She’s told me many times.”
When it was Lowe’s turn to speak, most of her words were inaudible through her sobs.
“I’m sorry to all the family and friends,” she said while addressing those close to Mason and Dam. “I have always grieved for the families.”
The trial had centered around the fatal car accident on Route 219 in West Paris on Jan. 7, 2012, that left Mason and Dam dead. Lowe, Mason, Dam and Skaff, had attended a party on Yeaton Lane, and it was Lowe who was behind the wheel when the accident occurred.
The jury heard out-of-order and previously suppressed testimony from Lowe’s father, Earl Lowe, that his daughter had told him she looked down at her phone at an incoming text message, which is when Dam reached from the back seat to grab the steering wheel and she lost control of the car. Lowe’s mother, Melissa Stanley, testified in July during a hearing for three motions—requests for a mistrial, acquittal and retrial—that there was no way her daughter could have told her ex-husband this since he was never alone with Kristina in the hospital after the accident.
Earl Lowe’s testimony is one of the reasons for the defense’s three motions. In August, Clifford denied the the defense’s request.