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Windham man previously convicted of manslaughter, OUI, indicted again for OUI

Brenton L. Blais, 42, was sentenced in 2016 to 12 years in prison with all but three years suspended for the 2015 death of 35-year-old Jennifer Lavigne
Credit: Westbrook Police Department

WESTBROOK, Maine — A Windham man who was on probation after serving a prison sentence for the manslaughter death of a 35-year-old South Portland woman has been indicted again for aggravated criminal operating under the influence.

Brenton L. Blais, 42, was arrested the afternoon of Oct. 9, 2020, and charged with aggravated operating under the influence, a charge elevated to a Class B felony due to his previous conviction for manslaughter.

Blais was involved in a single-vehicle crash that day on East Bridge Street in Westbrook, Westbrook Police Capt. Steven Goldberg said Wednesday.

Just after 1:30 p.m., he struck a telephone pole and split the pole in half. Police closed the road to clear the crash and rescue took Blais to a local hospital with minor injuries.

Blais was the driver of a motorcycle that crashed in Westbrook on July 26, 2015. Jennifer Lavigne, 35, of South Portland, who was riding on the motorcycle with Blais, died at the scene, The Bangor Daily News reported at the time. Blais was seriously injured in the crash.

He was subsequently convicted of Class A manslaughter and Class B operating under the influence of alcohol resulting in death.

In October 2016, Blais was sentenced to 12 years in prison with all but three years suspended, and four years probation. His license was suspended for five years.

Prior to the 2016 sentencing, Blais had previously served time in prison for multiple counts of assault, aggravated assault, aggravated forgery, aggravated criminal mischief, operating under the influence, and operating as a habitual motor vehicle offender. His probation had been revoked repeatedly after multiple violations, according to an official criminal history report.

Following the incident in October 2020, police charged Blais with aggravated criminal operating under the influence of drugs, Class C felony aggravated criminal mischief involving more than $2,000 -- for damage to the telephone pole -- and the misdemeanor crimes of possession of scheduled drugs, operating after suspension, and violation of conditions of release, according to an indictment handed up this week by a Cumberland County grand jury.

Goldberg said Wednesday morning that given his prior conviction for vehicular manslaughter, the new charges of operating under the influence of drugs "and getting into a crash at 1:30 in the afternoon" are "particularly worrisome."