Northampton driver pleads not guilty to vehicular homicide

  • Peter Toomey, 52, of Northampton pleads not guilty to vehicular homicide charges in Franklin County Superior Court on Tuesday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Peter Toomey, 52, of Northampton pleads not guilty to vehicular homicide charges Tuesday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ


  • Mark Thompson, husband of the late Rhonda Thompson, is comforted at the vigil held in June for his wife at the former Farren Care Center in Montague. STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 10/19/2021 7:43:06 PM

GREENFIELD — The Northampton man accused of vehicular homicide in connection with a hit-and-run on Route 2 in Shelburne over the summer pleaded not guilty in Franklin County Superior Court on Tuesday afternoon, after the case got transferred from Greenfield District Court due to its severity.

Peter Toomey, 52, appeared before Judge Francis Flannery, who set bail at $10,000. Toomey posted $25,000 bail in District Court following his arrest, and that money is transferable to Superior Court, meaning he will remain free on the condition that he not operate a motor vehicle and not live out of state during court proceedings.

Toomey is accused of a hit-and-run that killed 45-year-old Shelburne Falls resident Rhonda Thompson on June 8.

Toomey, being represented by attorney Jonah Goldsmith, faces felony charges of negligent motor vehicle homicide while operating under the influence of drugs, leaving the scene of personal injury or death, and intimidating a witness/juror/police/court official.

Assistant District Attorney Joseph Webber previously said in Greenfield District Court that Thompson was struck by a vehicle while on her morning walk with a friend on Route 2 at around 6:30 a.m. on June 8. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

According to Webber, police were advised to be on the lookout on Route 2 for an eastbound truck with heavy front passenger-side damage. At about 6:50 a.m., a State Police trooper on patrol in Hatfield noticed a gray Toyota Tundra that matched the description and stopped the vehicle in Northampton. The driver was identified as Toomey, who stated he was coming from his girlfriend’s house.

Webber explained that in interviews with police, Toomey repeatedly said his truck’s damage was caused by his girlfriend hitting a deer the previous day. The girlfriend, who police spoke with separately, reportedly denied that had happened, Webber said.

After two hours of interviews and upon hearing the charges against him, Toomey allegedly told officers he would have stopped if the woman had been alone, and not with a friend.

A candlelight vigil was held in honor of Thompson, originally from Colrain, on June 16 at the former Farren Care Center in Montague, where Thompson had worked as director of nursing.

Toomey’s next court date is for a pretrial conference on March 9.


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