Negligent-homicide case proceeds in Superior Court
MANCHESTER – Two court cases – one criminal and one civil – involving former police officer and one-time Amherst resident Tyler Berry, who is accused of causing the April 2019 crash that killed a 21-year-old Milford woman, continue to inch their way forward in Hillsborough County Superior Court North.
Recent filings in the two cases include timelines that, while tentative, show that both are eventually headed for jury trials.
Should the dates stand, the jury selection process for the criminal trial would begin Sept. 27, with the trial itself to follow. When that start date would be depends on how many days it takes to seat a jury, and whether the judge schedules any off-days before testimony opens.
The civil trial, meanwhile, would begin just over a year from now, on Jan. 10, 2022, if the current schedule stands. It is estimated the trial will run for 6-8 days.
Although the case file lists dates for trial and related hearings and deadlines, which the parties recently stipulated to, they also agreed to participate in mediation under the Alternative Dispute Resolution, or ADR, procedure, a process that allows parties to try to settle disputes without litigation.
The civil suit was filed in early 2020 by family of Sierra Croteau, the Milford woman who died of multiple injuries sustained in the crash involving her car and Berry’s pickup truck on Route 101 in Amherst the night of April 5, 2019.
Listed as plaintiffs in the suit are her biological parents, Debrah (Bashaw) Whitney and Andrew Croteau, along with the Estate of Sierra Croteau, according to the file.
Named as defendants in addition to Berry are two businesses: East Coast Restaurant and Nightclubs, which did, or does, business in Bedford as the Gold Club and later, Millennium Cabaret, and Pipe Dream Brewing, 49 Harvey Road in Londonderry.
Although initially charged with one count of felony aggravated driving while intoxicated, Berry would be indicted on eight additional charges later that year.
They include two counts each of manslaughter, negligent homicide, and reckless conduct; and one count each of falsifying physical evidence and criminal mischief.
Prosecutors at that time dropped the initial aggravated DWI charge.
One of the negligent homicide indictments accuses Berry of causing Croteau’s death “through blunt impact to her body” as a “consequence of being under the influence of intoxicating liquor,” and is classified a Class A misdemeanor.
The other negligent homicide indictment is worded the same except for the reference to the drunk-driving allegation, making it a Class B felony.
Both the manslaughter charges are listed as unclassified felonies; one of them includes a drunk-driving allegation.
Likewise for the reckless conduct indictments, which are both Class B felonies.
The indictments on criminal mischief and falsifying physical evidence charges, both Class B felonies, accuse Berry of driving his truck into the oncoming lane and causing a collision with Croteau’s vehicle that caused more than $1,501 in damages, and of “purposely concealing” his blood from the investigation by “refusing to submit to a blood draw that was authorized by a search warrant,” according to the indictments.
The next hearing on the criminal case is a status conference, which is scheduled for March 25.
Dean Shalhoup may be reached at 594-1256 or email@example.com.