CONWAY — The man accused of driving into the Conway Public Library and causing the death of his passenger has been indicted by a Carroll County Superior Court grand jury, which said he was going over 90 mph prior to the crash.
Harold Hill Jr., 32, was originally charged with negligent homicide and aggravated driving while intoxicated with serious injury in connection with the March 31 crash in which he drove his pickup into the historic library building, damaging the facade.
The grand jury upped those charges to negligent homicide, aggravated driving while intoxicated and manslaughter.
His passenger, Brooke Barron, 21, of Conway died April 1 as a result of injuries she sustained in the crash.
Following his not guilty plea May 3, Carroll County Superior Court Judge Amy Ignatius ordered Hill held without bail. However, he has a bail hearing scheduled for June 16. There was to be a bail hearing May 26 but it was canceled.
The grand jury handed up the indictments May 20. Of the three indictments, the manslaughter is the most serious. It’s being charged as a “special felony,” and he could be sentenced to 15-30 years and receive a $4,000 fine.
“The defendant Harold Hill recklessly caused the death of another,” reads the indictment signed by Assistant Carroll County Attorney Jeffrey Garrett Tynes.
The indictment went on to say that Hill, “while under the influence of intoxicating liquor and while operating a motor vehicle in excess of 90 miles per hour, caused the death of vehicle passenger B.B. by colliding with Conway Public Library.”
The negligent homicide indictment is being charged as a Class A felony punishable by between 7½ and 15 years in prison.
The aggravated driving while intoxicated indictment is being charged as a Class B felony punishable by 3½ to seven years in prison. It says while intoxicated, Hill caused a collision at the library causing “an open forearm fracture.”
Court documents say Hill was pinned in his truck and suffered an “open forearm fracture.”
On May 3, Hill entered the courtroom with a walker accompanied by family members. Members of Barron’s family were also there with their lawyer, Rebecca Robertson of Morgan & Morgan’s Boston office.
After hearing from Tynes and defense attorney Joseph E. Welsh of Exeter, Ignatius ordered Hill to be held without bail prior to trial. However, she said he could file for an evidentiary hearing in which he could attempt to change her mind.
Judges when considering bail often weigh whether a defendant is a flight risk or a danger to the community.
Ignatius seemed firm in her decision. She said the police probable cause statement said Hill was extremely intoxicated, drove at a high rate of speed, argued with and insulted police after the crash and showed “total disregard” for Barron after being told she was seriously hurt. At the hospital, he worried police would learn of his blood alcohol content.
“All of that, to me, paints a very bad picture, and I think it meets the state’s level of dangerousness,” said Ignatius, adding Hill had an apparent desire to “say whatever needs to be said to avoid repercussions.”
On May 13, Hill’s attorney filed a motion seeking reconsideration of bail. He asked for personal recognizance or $5,000 unsecured appearance bond as well as GPS monitoring and “other restrictive conditions,” including no driving, no drugs or alcohol.
“Mr. Hill has an excellent employment record, including 14 years of military service in the Army National Guard and Air Force National Guard from 2008 to the present,” said Welsh, adding, “Mr. Hill’s lengthy military services demonstrates his ability to follow orders, which in this case would be following conditions in the bail order.”
Welsh provided three letters from military men who served with Hill and “at times supervised” him. He also said that because of his injuries, Hill cannot drive and doesn’t have a vehicle because his truck was totaled.
On May 3, Tynes successfully argued that allegations in the probable cause statement were so “egregious” that Hill needed to be held without bail.
Tynes added that Hill rang up a $230 bar tab and surveillance footage showed him drinking a half-dozen drinks. Tynes also said there also was a beer in the cup holder of Hill’s truck and empties scattered around the truck floor when police arrived at the crash scene.
Tynes noted that “at the scene of the crash in response to being told that he ... would have to wait for medical attention, he said. “I don’t care! Get me out of the (expletive) truck!’”
As for his behavior at the scene of the crash, Welsh said Hill was “severely injured” and had an “altered mental status.”
On May 4, the day after Hill’s initial arraignment, Barron’s family through the law firm they retained, Morgan & Morgan, sent the Sun a brief statement applauding Ignatius’ order to have Hill held.
“Brooke’s family is pleased with the Judge Ignatius’ decision and relieved that the driver will not be back on the road soon,” said the Barron family. “As the criminal case progresses, we will continue our work in their civil case to hold those responsible for this tragic loss of life accountable.”