Lincoln County Courts

Roberts gets new deferred disposition, McKellar family speaks

Tue, 10/05/2021 - 7:15am

Lincoln County Superior Court Justice Daniel Billings approved an agreement between the District Attorney’s Office and Jonathan D. Roberts, 47, of Waban Massachusetts Oct. 4 for a deferred disposition. In 2019, Roberts pleaded guilty to reckless operation of a watercraft in 2018 for a deferred disposition after Camden’s Kristen McKellar died of injuries in a boat crash on Damariscotta Lake in Jefferson. Charges of manslaughter and operating a watercraft at an imprudent speed were dismissed.

Roberts was arrested Aug. 5 in Kennebec County on charges of speeding and operating under the influence, a violation of the 2019 agreement. The violation resurrected potential charges for the Class D crime putting 364 days in jail and up to a $2,000 fine back on the table.

The first agreement called for Roberts to serve 100 hours of community service, pay a $400 fine and to commit no violations of the agreement or other laws before July 2022.

Assistant District Attorney Kent Murdick II filed motions Aug. 6 to revoke the 2019 agreement and hold Roberts in jail. Roberts turned himself in Aug. 8 and Murdick requested Lincoln County Superior Court revoke bail Aug. 9 until the Oct. 4 hearing. Billings granted Roberts $1,500 bail, saying Roberts was not a substantial risk to the public.

Conditions of the new 24-month deferred disposition include 21 days in jail for revocation of bail, a $1,000 donation to the Maine Victims Compensation Fund, $50 per month supervision fee, substance abuse and mental health evaluation and treatment overseen by a counselor, random search and testing for use and possession of alcohol, and prohibited use of watercraft in Maine.

McKellar family members felt the consequences of Roberts’ most recent violation – allegedly 99 mph in a 70 mph zone with an alcohol level of .14 – were not enough. Alison McKellar talked about her sister Kristen’s love for people, animals and wildlife and how her summer weekends were spent helping others.

“She would have likely been cleaning up trash on the side of the road, rescuing an animal, playing with my kids or helping my parents with something …,” Alison said. “The most recent behavior of Mr. Roberts reinforces there is a pattern of recklessness and disregard for the lives of others when he is operating a motorized vehicle … I am grateful he was stopped before someone else was killed or injured, but it seems clear he was not nearly as remorseful about taking Kristen's life as he wanted everyone to believe.”

Kristen’s father Hugh asked the court to consider public safety. He said the sentence is not strong enough and the only way for Roberts to learn his lesson is with more jail time.

“I am Alison McKellar's father and I would be Kristen's father had Mr. Roberts not killed her,” Hugh introduced himself to the court. “I'm not a vengeful person. My concern is that the deferred disposition he received for his initial transgression didn't have any impact on him as witnessed by his behavior … We're not going to get Kristen back, but maybe we can prevent another tragedy because this man is dangerous. He's a threat.”

Billings said while he respected the family’s feelings and acknowledged Roberts seems to have not taken the first deferred disposition seriously, the new one is reasonable.

“You did enter into a deferred disposition agreement that had certain requirements and the number one requirement is no new criminal conduct and this is a disappointing step in the process … Mr. Roberts, going forward, you're still going to be on a deferred disposition agreement and the matters you plead to are still pending and I believe this is a reasonable resolution under these circumstances. You shouldn't expect another extension or another result of this kind if further charges (develop).”

Murdick was not immediately available for comment. Roberts is to report to Two Bridges Regional Jail in Wiscasset at 9 a.m. Nov. 1 for his 21-day sentence.