WOBURN — Lynn DeWolfe cried as she pleaded guilty Tuesday to causing a fatal crash while driving under the influence of drugs in August 2017, just minutes after a state trooper let her drive away from a separate accident.
The 52-year-old Tyngsborough woman was led away in handcuffs after Middlesex Superior Judge Bruce R. Henry sentenced her to between three and five years in prison, followed by 10 years of probation, for the death of 42-year-old Christopher Weisz, a Bedford father of three.
Her license will be revoked for 15 years.
Outside the courthouse, Weisz’s widow, Alexis, said she and her relatives “will breathe a little freer” knowing DeWolfe is “behind bars and can’t do this to another family.”
She said she wished DeWolfe had received a longer sentence but felt it was fair, given the state guidelines, and was grateful to avoid a trial.
During Tuesday’s hearing, DeWolfe said she had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and depression and was taking medication for those conditions, but it did not affect her judgment. She said she was knowingly and voluntarily pleading guilty to motor vehicle homicide, drugged driving, and other charges.
Middlesex Assistant District Attorney Julie Kunkel urged Henry to impose a seven to 10-year prison term. DeWolfe’s lawyer, Arnold Blank Jr., said she had completed in-patient and out-patient treatment for substance abuse and recommended she serve only a year.
Henry said he had considered the devastating loss suffered by Weisz’s family, the “terribly poor decisions made by Ms. DeWolfe to drive that day,” and the judgments of others — an apparent reference to the State Police. He said he believed DeWolfe had the potential to be rehabilitated.
The judge also ordered DeWolfe to perform 50 hours of community service while on probation, undergo mental health and substance abuse evaluations, submit to random drug screenings, and not use alcohol or marijuana.
On the morning of Aug. 24, 2017, DeWolfe, a twice-convicted drunk driver, crashed into a car driven by an 85-year-old woman on Interstate 95 in Reading, causing it to veer into oncoming traffic and strike Weisz’s motorcycle and two other cars, police said.
The crash drew more attention when The Boston Globe reported in April 2018 that DeWolfe had been questioned by a state trooper at the scene of a separate accident earlier that morning, and that State Police had withheld that information from prosecutors.
No one in law enforcement had told Weisz’s family about the earlier crash. His widow, now raising their children — Logan, Maxwell, and Grace — alone, learned of it from the Globe.
Shortly before the fatal crash, a 911 caller notified State Police that a driver was “all over the road” on Route 3 in Chelmsford, her head bobbing up and down as if she were on drugs, police records show. He provided a description of DeWolfe’s silver Saab and plate number, but Trooper Michael Benevento, who took the call, didn’t broadcast the report over the police radio, records show.
Moments later, a second caller told police that the same driver, later identified as DeWolfe, had slammed into his car on Route 3 in Burlington. He said she looked “out of it” and screamed that he caused the accident by backing into her, according to police records.
Trooper Daniel Hanafin was dispatched to the crash scene by Benevento, who texted him about the first 911 calls that he failed to broadcast earlier, according to reports.
DeWolfe had a history of drunk driving, refusing Breathalyzers, speeding, and crashes spanning 30 years. Yet, after a brief roadside assessment, Hanafin concluded DeWolfe was not impaired. He let her drive away at 9:14 a.m., records show.
Nineteen minutes later, DeWolfe allegedly triggered the crash that killed Weisz, who was on his way to his IT engineering job at Al Foundry in Wakefield.
She told police she had taken Lorazepam, commonly used for anxiety, and Gabapentin, for back pain, records show.
The State Police conducted an internal investigation that concluded that Hanafin — the son of a retired lieutenant colonel — didn’t have probable cause to arrest DeWolfe but should have written a report about the earlier crash, records show.
State Police concluded that Benevento violated regulations by failing to broadcast or log the 911 call. Both men were docked a day’s pay.
A year ago, Massachusetts State Police Colonel Kerry Gilpin ordered an independent investigation into the department’s handling of the fatal crash.
The report, conducted by former state attorney general Thomas F. Reilly, was filed under seal in April with the court and has not been made public.
Alexis Weisz said she believes others have to be held accountable for her husband’s death.
“Clearly there are two state troopers that did not do their job properly that day,” she said outside the courthouse. “That’s the bottom line. Everybody does make mistakes. This one led to somebody’s death.”Shelley Murphy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @shelleymurph.