Testimony about eyesight dominates day 3 of manslaughter trial

  • Left to right: Wayne Main, 74, of Middlefield, attorneys Luke Ryan, Leah Kunkel and First Assistant Northwestern District Attorney Steven Gagne. Main appeared in Hampshire Superior Court Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018, for the second day of trial. Main is charged with manslaughter and negligent motor vehicle homicide in the Feb. 20, 2016, death of Kenneth Dejordy, 22, of Montgomery.

Published: 2/14/2018 10:18:36 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Whether a Middlefield man charged in the death of a motorcyclist two years ago was legally blind and should not have been driving dominated Wednesday’s third day of testimony in the 74-year-old’s manslaughter trial.

Wayne Main is also charged with negligent motor vehicle homicide in the Feb. 20, 2016, death of Kenneth Dejordy, 22, of Montgomery. Main is represented by attorneys Luke Ryan and Leah Kunkel, who contend that the accident occurred because Dejordy was traveling too fast.

First Assistant Northwestern District Attorney Steven Gagne has argued that Main knew he shouldn’t have been driving after being declared legally blind in June 2012. Main allegedly turned his GMC Yukon in front of Dejordy’s oncoming motorcycle.

Main waived his right to a jury trial. The presiding judge is Richard Carey.

Gagne’s final three witnesses on Wednesday included an optometrist who found Main to be legally blind, a registrar at the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind and the director of medical affairs for the state’s Registry of Motor Vehicles.

Dr. Michael Purdy, an optometrist in Huntington, examined Main in June 2012. During the exam, Purdy found that Main’s corrected vision in the stronger eye — which means with the aid of lenses — had met the state’s threshold for legal blindness. This required Purdy to file a report with the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind within 30 days of the determination, but he did not file the paperwork until December 2012. 

When questioned by defense attorney Ryan, Purdy said it was his practice to tell all his patients when they do not meet the requirements to pass a standard driving test. Main’s license expired in July 2012.

Karin Butler, a registrar at Mass Commission for the Blind, then detailed the process that occurs when the commission is notified about a new person who has been deemed legally blind. Butler explained that once the reporting form is received and reviewed, a referral will be sent to a local office, which will then assign a caseworker to make contact with the individual.

A letter would also be sent notifying the person that the commission was contacted and that state regulation requires they voluntarily surrender their driver’s license to the RMV’s department of medical affairs. The commission also notifies the RMV when someone appears on its list as well as the registry’s list. In Main’s case, by the time the documentation was sent to the commission his license was expired and thus did not appear when the commission inquired of the RMV, Butler explained.

Butler also presented documents which detailed an in-person meeting between Main and a commission case worker during which an application for a handicapped placard due to his blindness was completed.

Main signed the application for the placard but would not have filled out a form completed by a health care provider that specifically states it would trigger a loss of license.

Alison Falk, director of medical affairs for the state RMV, testified that the RMV first learned on Feb. 4, 2013 of Main’s determination of legal blindness when he applied for a handicapped placard.

“At that point, we issued a disabled parking placard to him, which was his request,” Falk said. “As he did not have a valid driver’s license, we did not send any letter.”

Falk also testified that state standards only allow for a telescopic lens on one eye, whereas a pair belonging to Main — and submitted into evidence — has a telescope for each eye.

A witness called by the defense, Dr. Joseph Hashim, also testified about Main’s eyesight. Hashim, an optometrist, began treating Main in 1988 and last saw him in 2014.

Hashim testified that in June 2007 he referred Main to see another optometrist following an exam in which Hashim found Main’s vision to be at a level which would have made him ineligible to renew a license. Hashim did not see Main again until 2014.

Speed an issue?

Earlier in the day, Gagne spent more than an hour questioning a defense witness, Daniel Parkka, who conducted his own review of the crash reconstruction done by the Massachusetts State Police. Parkka is an accident reconstructionist and formerly worked for the Barnstable Police Department before retiring in 2004.

On Tuesday, Kunkel questioned Trooper Tom Fisk about his calculations in determining the speed of Dejordy’s motorcycle. Fisk’s calculations differed from those prepared by Parkka. Fisk found that Dejordy reached a minimum speed of 61 mph, while Parkka concluded he reached a minimum speed of 69 mph.

Gagne on Wednesday pointed out calculation errors in a summary of speeds and distances presented by Parkka the day before.

Using Parkka’s calculations, as well as Fisk’s, Gagne asked Parkka to indicate where Dejordy would have been the moment the incident began to unfold. Parkka placed Dejordy’s location near a second entrance of the Gateway Food & Pet parking lot, which was about a football field away, he testified.

The trial will resume Friday morning where the defense will have an opportunity to call more witnesses.

Emily Cutts can be reached at ecutts@gazettenet.com.

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