WOBURN – Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan and Newton Chief of Police David MacDonald have announced that Bradford Casler, 57, of Newton, was found guilty by a Middlesex Superior Court jury of two counts of motor vehicle homicide and one count of operating a motor vehicle to endanger in connection with the fatal crash that occurred at Sweet Tomatoes Restaurant in Newton. The March 1, 2016 crash resulted in the deaths of Gregory D. Morin, 32, of Newton, and Eleanor Miele, 57, of Watertown, who were both pronounced dead at the scene. Seven other individuals sustained serious injuries.
Judge Merita Hopkins scheduled sentencing for November 20 following victim impact statements. As Judge Hopkins did not preside over the previous statements made by those impacted in this case, statements may be given a second time to be factored into the defendant’s sentencing.
“The jury found that Mr. Casler operated his vehicle well-above the speed limit, wove in and out of traffic, did not apply the brakes to reduce his speed and failed to control his vehicle resulting in the collision,” said District Attorney Ryan. “While first responders were on scene almost immediately after the crash, two people died that night. No verdict can ever fill the void created by this loss of life, or undo the injuries sustained by the seven others hurt during the crash, but it is our hope that today’s decision brings some comfort to those impacted by this horrific incident.”
On March 1, 2016 at approximately 6:12 p.m. Bradford Casler was operating a Volkswagen Tiguan Sport Utility Vehicle traveling down Chestnut Street in Newton when he crossed over Washington Street colliding with two cars on Washington Street and ultimately crashing through the front of Sweet Tomatoes Restaurant.
Prior to the crash several witnesses had observed the vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed. Following the crash the defendant, the sole occupant of the vehicle, remained seated in his SUV until emergency responders assisted him from the vehicle.
The defendant reported that he could not push the brake pedal down and that the pedal was stuck and not working. Witnesses said that there was no indication that the defendant applied the brakes prior to the collision and that the brake lights were not illuminated. Additionally, there was no indication that the defendant had applied the emergency brake or attempted to honk the horn to alert people in the vicinity of the loss of control of his motor vehicle.
Following the crash the vehicle was examined by the Massachusetts State Police Collision Analysis and Reconstruction Section. The vehicle was found to have no pre-impact defects that would have contributed to the collision and the braking system was found to be fully functional.
The defendant reported to police that he suffered from multiple sclerosis. However, based on information obtained by the Commonwealth concerning the defendant’s health from past and present medical records; observations of the defendant by medical professionals in the immediate aftermath of the crash; as well as statements from people who know the defendant, were familiar with his medical condition and had observed him around the time of the collision, there was no indication that the cause of this crash was an episode or flare up of multiple sclerosis.
Following the crash, Casler’s driver’s license was revoked as an immediate threat.
This incident was investigated by the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office, the Newton Police Department, the Newton Police Department Traffic Bureau and the State Police Collision Analysis and Reconstruction Section.
The prosecutors assigned to this case were Assistant District Attorneys Christopher Tarrant and Melissa Baima. The Victim Witness Advocate was Susie Marshall.