Drunk driver in double fatal crash gets 1-7 years in state prison | Courts
A Manchester man who was driving drunk and caused a crash that killed his wife and 13-year-old stepdaughter and left him seriously injured has been sentenced to at least a year in prison.
Aaron Lafontaine, 31, pleaded guilty to two counts of negligent homicide for his role in the crash on Route 101 in Exeter that claimed the lives of Rebecca Lafontaine, 39, of Manchester, and her daughter, Julissa Clem, on July 18, 2018.
At a hearing on June 9, Rockingham County Superior Court Judge Daniel St. Hilaire sentenced Lafontaine to 1 to 7 years in prison with an indefinite loss of license. He also received an additional 7 1/2- to 15-year sentence, but the prison time was all suspended.
Rockingham County Attorney Patricia Conway had recommended that Lafontaine spend 3 1/2 to 7 years in prison despite his significant medical issues related to the crash.
“I did take into consideration the defendant’s injuries and medical condition. If he were healthy I would have recommended at least 10 to 20 years stand committed,” Conway said Monday.
According to authorities, Lafontaine was under the influence of alcohol when he lost control of a 2000 Volkswagen Jetta, hit a guardrail and then crashed into a ditch. The car rolled several times before coming to rest off the right side of the road.
“This is a very sad case. The defendant’s wife and 13-year-old stepdaughter trusted the defendant to do right by them. His 13-year-old stepdaughter had no control over where she went, what he did or who drove her from place to place. She had no control over the situation, yet she paid the ultimate price with her life. Although the defendant has terrible medical issues, he is still alive. He has the ability to make the best out of his situation. If he chooses to do so, he can find happiness. R.L. and J.L. no longer have this ability because he took their lives,” Conway said.
In her impact statement to the court, Rebecca Lafontaine’s daughter Aaliyah Peters, shared the pain of losing her mother and sister, who was a month away from her 14th birthday.
“The amount of pain and suffering I have endured since my mother and sister lost their lives has been immeasurable, from the grief that comes with loss to the guilt of not being there when they needed me most,” she said.
Peters explained how she suffered postpartum depression because her mother missed the birth of her first grandchild three months after her death and “never had the privilege of knowing what it felt like to become a nana.”
“My sister, only 13, never got to attend high school, dances, first love, college, marriage, and the bond she would’ve had with my son as a first time aunt or the children she may have had in the future. She will continue to miss out on the simple pleasures life has to offer because of Aaron Lafontaine’s actions,” she said.
Family friend Peyton Davis also spoke about the grief that lingers three years after the crash. Davis, who is a close friend of Peters, described how Rebecca Lafontaine was like a mother.
“Becky treated me as if I was her own. I can no longer walk in her house and say, ‘Hi Mom,’ smell whatever she was cooking up for us or hear her laugh at whatever stupid things we had done that day. I now avoid Central Street and Route 101 because if I dare drive either I cry and wonder of all the things that would be different if Aaron would have made an adult decision to not get behind the wheel three years ago on July 18 of 2018,” Davis said.