SALEM — A paroled killer was spared a potential eighth driving under the influence conviction Tuesday following nearly five hours of deliberations that, at one point, became deadlocked.
But Andrew Millyan, 56, of North Grafton, stopped on Route 128 in Manchester last February, did receive a two-year jail term after he was found guilty of driving to endanger and marijuana possession by the Salem District Court jury late Tuesday afternoon.
Several jurors interviewed after the verdict said they struggled with a decision, but believed they had no option, given the evidence they had.
“It was an uncomfortable situation,” said a 31-year-old Peabody woman who did not want her name published. “All we had was the information presented to us.”
That information did not include Millyan’s string of drunken driving convictions in the 1970s and 1980s — a spree interrupted, said prosecutor Jane Prince, only by Millyan’s arrest and conviction in a 1981 murder in Revere. It also did not include Millyan’s inadvertently recorded admission to his lawyer that he “took too many” Percocets the day he was stopped by Manchester police after careening along the northbound lanes of Route 128, according to witnesses.
And while some of the jurors suspected that Mill-yan had a past history, that information was not provided during the trial, said the juror. “We had to rely on what was before us in the courtroom.”
She went on to say some jurors simply believed that there was not enough evidence to find Millyan guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. For example, she said, there was no evidence of how much Percocet he had taken that day.
But not all the jurors felt the same way. In one note sent to the judge around 2 p.m., the jurors reported that while they had reached their verdicts on the driving to endanger and marijuana charges, and they were split 4-2 on the question of whether Millyan was driving under the influence of drugs. Four believed he was not guilty.
Asked after the trial if she felt the jury had reached the right verdict, the forewoman, who also did not want to be identified, said “Kind of.”
Millyan was arrested on the evening of Feb. 16 after traveling some 20 miles down Route 128, veering from lane to lane and from the median guardrail, which he’d struck several times, to the shoulder, a college student driving behind him that night testified.
He and his lawyer, Clint Muche, argued to jurors that a new blood pressure medication Millyan had just started taking a day before had caused him to become “involuntarily intoxicated.”
Millyan testified that, as he drove, he suddenly became disoriented, developed “tunnel vision” and was unable to stop or remove his hands from the steering wheel.
Prince, the prosecutor, argued that Millyan had received numerous warnings from his doctor, however, about the potential for side effects like dizziness, and showed jurors medical records that included written warnings that he should not drive if he becomes dizzy.
She also urged jurors to consider the evidence from a urine sample that showed Millyan had used a “potpourri” of other drugs, including prescribed anti-depressants, as well as cocaine and marijuana (which he denied using on the witness stand), along with the Percocet.
Later, during sentencing, she urged Judge Michael Lauranzano to impose the maximum penalty available on each count and run them back-to-back, a total of 21/2 years.
“He has a fundamental lack of regard for everybody else,” said Prince. “It’s really just basically a miracle that no one was killed that night.”
Muche, the defense lawyer, asked the judge for the sentences to be served concurrently — two years for the driving to endanger and six months for the marijuana possession charge, saying his client has worked to stay clean, attending drug programs at the Middleton Jail, where he’s been held without bail since his arrest.
“His conduct was based on poor judgment,” said Muche.
Outside court, Muche said an appeal is not likely.
Millyan still faces a parole violation hearing before the Parole Board, which could potentially vote to return him to state prison, where he had been serving a life sentence in the Revere murder.
Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email through email@example.com, or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.