NORTH HAVERHILL, N.H. – Family members of a Vermont couple killed in a car crash were unflinching during a sentencing hearing Wednesday as they poured out their anger toward a New Hampshire man who admitted causing the wreck, which also killed their unborn fetus.
Prosecutors have said Robert Dellinger told investigators he was trying to kill himself in December 2013 when he drove his pickup truck across an Interstate 89 median and smashed into an SUV carrying 24-year-old Amanda Murphy, who was 8 months pregnant, and her fiance, 29-year-old Jason Timmons.
The Valley News of West Lebanon reported that relatives of Murphy and Timmons tore into Dellinger during the first of the two-day sentencing hearing.
“I have been robbed and violated. I will never see or touch my child ever again,” the newspaper quoted Timmons’ mother, Debbie Blanchard, as saying, reporting that she fought back tears. “How could you be so heartless? You still have a family; you have taken mine from me.”
Dellinger appeared to be deeply remorseful during the hearing, the newspaper reported.
“You have my deepest, most heartfelt apology, condolences and remorse for your loss. I am so sorry,” the 54-year-old Dellinger said through sobs. “My guilt and remorse will be with me forever. I ask for your forgiveness, and I pray for your healing.”
Dellinger, of Sunapee, New Hampshire, was a senior vice-president and chief financial officer at PPG Industries Inc. when he left in 2011 because of health problems. He also held high-level posts at Sprint Corp., Delphi Corp. and General Electric Co.
He pleaded guilty in February to negligent homicide for the deaths of the couple, who were from Wilder, Vermont, and to assault for the death of the fetus. He faces 12 to 24 years in prison when sentencing resumes Thursday.
During Wednesday’s hearing, Dellinger’s wife, Deborah, called him a man of “ethics, integrity and friendship,” the Valley News reported.
“We are devastated by the deaths of your loved ones,” she said as her husband broke down at the defence table. “We have been and continue to pray every day for your collective peace and comfort.”
Defence lawyers have said Dellinger was suffering from delirium due to a “toxic regime” of prescription medications for multiple sclerosis and depression. In asking for a shorter sentence, they also contend he was suffering from withdrawal of a sleeping aid.
Attorney Steven Gordon wrote in a sentencing brief they now know “a medical event” was the main cause “of this accident.”
Dellinger has been jailed since his arrest in December. His lawyers want a sentence that would see him serve only about eight months in prison after being given credit for time already served.
Investigators say Dellinger told them that on the day of the accident he “had a disagreement with his wife and went to Vermont to drive around. He said he was very depressed and gloomy and wanted to have a car wreck and kill himself.”
On Wednesday, Dellinger told the court: “I have never been suicidal.”
Assistant Attorney General Geoffrey Ward said in court that Dellinger’s truck reached 101 mph in the seconds before the crash and was going 87 mph one second before he hit the SUV. His truck sheared off the top of the SUV.
The medical examiner’s report compared the injuries suffered by Murphy and Timmons to those of plane crash victims. Dellinger suffered cuts and bruises.