Tuesday March 5, 2013

BENNINGTON -- A 20-year-old pleaded not guilty Monday to allegedly hosting the party his friend was drinking alcohol at prior to being killed in a single-vehicle crash in September.

Trevor Murray, of Union Street, was charge in Bennington Superior Court Criminal Division with a felony count of enabling alcohol consumption by a minor with death resulting, and misdemeanor charges of possession of alcohol by a minor, and giving false information to police. He was released on conditions that he not buy, consume, or possess alcohol.

According to an affidavit by Bennington Police Officer Joshua Stemp, on Sept. 2 at 2:23 a.m. Bennington police officers and the Bennington Rescue Squad were sent to Mount Anthony Road after Murray dialed 911 to report a single-vehicle crash involving his friend, Randy Blair Jr., 19. Stemp wrote that Blair was pronounced dead at the scene. A later autopsy would show Blair’s blood-alcohol content at the time of his death was .110 percent.

Murray said he and Blair were at a camp owned by Murray’s family some 75 yards from the scene of the crash drinking alcohol, according to Stemp. Blair wanted to go home and sleep but Murray suggested he stay until he "sobered up." Murray told police that Blair left in his truck and "put it to the floor" shortly after leaving the driveway. Murray heard two loud banging sounds and ran to check on Blair, finding him lying on the ground near the truck. Murray tried to wake Blair up then went to get the vehicle unstuck but could not. He then returned to Blair and called police.

Stemp wrote it was not made clear why Murray tried to move Blair’s vehicle.

Police said Murray had a blood-alcohol content of .064 percent.

Upon further questioning, Murray told police he, Blair, and about six friends had been at the camp celebrating Murray’s birthday. Murray told police he had brought alcoholic tea and beer to the camp and there was also hard alcohol stored at the camp. Murray said his intention was that those drinking would sleep at the camp but they all left at 11:30 p.m. He said no one was at the camp when Blair left.

Police searched the camp at 3:45 a.m. and found numerous half-empty beer containers. "The sheer number of half drank beers would lead a reasonable officer to believe that when Blair left the camp the party was still active with numerous people still present," wrote Stemp, adding that Murray revised his estimate of party attendees to say approximately 10. He maintained that all had left prior to Blair’s crash.

Stemp interviewed the people Murray named as having been at the party wand was told Blair had arrived at the party having already consumed alcohol and brought beer with him. Stemp said he received conflicting reports about who was drinking at the party with some saying everyone had been, while others denying it. It was also reported that Blair had been in a verbal and physical fight with Prouty and White which prompted his desire to leave the party.

Stemp learned from the group that people were still at the party when Blair crashed, and that Murray told them police were coming and anyone under 21 had to leave. He said they either left in other vehicles or went through the woods and were later picked up by friends. Stemp also wrote that Murray told him there had been no argument or fight between Blair and anyone else prior to his leaving.

"We don’t have any comment on the substance of the case at this point," said Murray’s attorney, David F. Silver, of Bennington, "However, this is a horrible tragedy and Randy Blair was one of Trevor’s best friends and Trevor is grief-stricken over his loss."

Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at kwhitcomb@benningtonbanner.com or follow him on Twitter @KWhitcombjr