Hamden man receives suspended sentence in 2015 New Haven crash that killed his best friend

NEW HAVEN >> The operator of a three-wheel motorcycle who lost control of the vehicle, resulting in the death of his best friend, has avoided serving jail time on a charge of negligent homicide with a motor vehicle.

Dean L. Williams, 38, of Grandview Avenue, Hamden, received a six-month sentence, execution suspended, with two years of conditional discharge. A second charge of failure to drive in the proper lane was nolled.

Williams was driving a Polaris Slingshot on Whalley Avenue, approaching West Park Avenue, at about 3 a.m. July 19, 2015, when he said he swerved off the road and onto the sidewalk to avoid crashing into two vehicles that were stopped in front of him.

Williams told police he thought he had enough room to drive between a tree and a stone wall. But the front side of the vehicle struck the wall, causing it to also strike a large tree growing from the wall. Then the motorcycle rolled over.

The front-seat passenger, Kevin Lee Lewis Jr., was critically injured. He died two days later at Yale New Haven Hospital.

Williams sustained a broken nose in the crash.

Supervisory Assistant State’s Attorney David Strollo, who handled the case for the state, noted the circumstances of the event: “His best friend was killed as he (Williams) tried to avoid a collision, according to him.”

Strollo termed it “a negligence case” entailing a motor vehicle violation, not a felony.

“The victim’s family didn’t want to see anything negative happen to him,” Strollo said of the sentencing decision.

Strollo also noted a blood test showed Williams was “not legally intoxicated” at the time of the crash. According to the police arrest warrant, he told police in the hospital he had had one drink prior to the event.

Police said the motorcycle was tested and was found to have no mechanical defects that could have contributed to the crash.

New Haven Superior Court Judge Philip Scarpellino presided over the sentencing. The defense attorney was Richard Silverstein. He could not be reached for comment.

Call Randall Beach at 203-680-9345.