Maine resident Kristina Lowe, 21, has been convicted on two counts of manslaughter after her trial revealed that she was using her phone when she killed two people in a car crash in 2012. The primary testimony used to convict Lowe came from her father, who was arrested and put on the stand because he refused to show up to court.
In 2012, Lowe was driving to a party with three passengers when she crashed her car into a tree. Two of her passengers were killed in the accident. She had a blood alcohol content of .04 when she crashed, which is below the legal limit for someone 21 years or older. Lowe was just 18 years old at the time.
Lowe allegedly lost control of her car when she checked her phone, but she never admitted this to prosecutors or police. She did, however, admit it to her parents. When prosecutors attempted to get her father, Earl Lowe, on the stand to testify, he refused to show up to court. The presiding judge was forced to issue a warrant for his arrest. Police charged Mr. Lowe with contempt of court and forced him to take the stand.
On Wednesday, Mr. Lowe testified that his daughter told him she had been checking her phone when she lost control of the car. This, combined with the fact that she was going 25 mph over the speed limit, was enough to convict Lowe on two manslaughter charges. She now faces up to 60 years in prison.
The ruling has deeply divided the small town of West Paris, Maine. Many residents feel the manslaughter charges do not reflect the accidental nature of Lowe’s crime and that 60 years in prison is too harsh a punishment.
Her attorney vowed to appeal the verdict.