Appeals denied, Ayer woman heads to jail — (The Lowell Sun)

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The Lowell Sun

By LISA REDMOND, Sun Staff

Article Last Updated:11/15/2006 01:20:27 PM EST

LOWELL — Melissa Reynolds was married Saturday, but she’ll have to wait more than two years for a honeymoon.

Three days after she said “I do,” the 26-year-old Ayer woman was led away in handcuffs from Lowell Superior Court yesterday to begin serving a 2 1/2- to 3-year state prison sentence for the death on Sept. 1, 2001, of 13-year-old Evan Holofcener of Groton.

Reynolds had been free since her 2003 conviction for felony motor-vehicle homicide after the trial judge stayed her sentence pending all appeals. The state Appeals Court denied her appeal in August, and on Nov. 2, a single justice of the Supreme Judicial Court refused to send the case to the full court to hear, quashing her last hope of getting her conviction overturned.

Defense attorney Lynda Dantas yesterday tried to have the sentence stayed for another week so that Reynolds could complete paperwork to give guardianship of her 10-year-old daughter to her parents. Prosecutor Suzanne Kontz opposed any delay.

“She’s had three years to get her affairs in order,” Kontz said.

After Judge Elizabeth Fahey ordered the sentence to be imposed, Reynolds looked visibly upset as she said goodbye to her parents and her new husband.

After waiting three years for justice, Mark Holofcener, Evan’s father, wrote in a statement: “All actions have a consequence and Melissa Reynolds is now paying for her actions, as she should be. Maybe now she will have a taste of what it’s like to have your life taken away when you are full of hope as Evan was. The only problem for us is that she will have her life back, Evan won’t.”

Holofcener wrote that he feared Reynolds might flee the country because her new husband is a citizen of Jordan. Holofcener thanked the person who overheard Reynolds and her husband talking about leaving the country and contacted the Groton police. Based on the tip, prosecutor Thomas O’Reilly successfully urged officials to hasten the surrender process.

In court, Dantas denied Reynolds was going to flee the country, noting she doesn’t have a passport.

On Sept. 1, 2001, Reynolds apparently dozed off while driving along Farmers Row in Groton, swerved onto the sidewalk and hit Holofcener as he rode his bicycle a few days before he was to begin the eighth grade at Groton-Dunstable Middle School. Reynolds was convicted in 2003 of killing the Groton teen.

During her trial, the jury heard that Reynolds had been taking medication for depression and anxiety.

While Dantas argued that there were no blood tests to prove Reynolds was under the influence, two witnesses testified that Reynolds almost plowed into them on the road minutes before Evan was struck and killed.

The Appeals Court ruled that there was sufficient evidence to show Reynolds operated her pickup truck “recklessly or negligently” after taking prescription medications that diminished her ability to drive.

Lisa Redmond’s e-mail address is lredmond@lowellsun.com.