Killer of Kid Kayak Angler Appeals Conviction
By Paul Lebowitz
On August 17, 2010, James Adamopolous and his 10-year-old son Gus were fishing aboard a kayak on Norwich Lake in Massachusetts. It was late afternoon, and the small, tree-lined lake was sparkling under a warm sun.
Then came the ski boat driven by Steven Morse. It plowed over the kayak, leaving it shredded and torn. Witnesses said the powerboat drove on for another four seconds, and even then didn’t stop. The impact severed Gus’ arm and punctured his lung. The 10-year-old died a short time later at Noble Hospital in Westfield, MA.
Morse, the boat driver, claimed he was blinded by the glare of the sun. Prosecutors said Morse had been driving under the influence of intoxicants. He’d consumed five beers and smoked marijuana. The jury acquitted Morse of manslaughter, but found him guilty of the lesser charge misdemeanor homicide by vessel. He was sentenced to five years in jail.
A little over a year later, he was out on bail as his attorney appealed the conviction on technicalities. He claimed that the testimony of the state’s expert on alcohol and drug impairment’s was wrongly applied. Morse, who admitted to drinking the beer, passed two breath and field sobriety tests. He told officers he hadn’t consumed any other intoxicants. He was contradicted by witness testimony. Prosecutors are adamant they proved their case.
“The jury readily could have concluded that the defendant’s consumption of alcohol or marijuana diminished his ability to safely operate the ski boat by impairing his temporal and spatial perception, slowing his reaction time, and exacerbating his eyes’ vulnerability to light,” the AP reported Assistant District Attorney Thomas Townsend wrote in a legal brief.
The State Judicial Court will hear arguments in February.