Man pleads guilty in deadly 2015 Rocky Point crash

PENDER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — A man who spent a couple of months behind bars for causing a deadly crash in Brunswick County in 2010, will now spend a decade in prison for killing a man in a fiery Rocky Point crash in 2015.

On Monday, Richard Constantineau pleaded guilty to felony death by motor vehicle, assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury, and two other drug charges. In exchange,  the charge of second degree murder was dismissed.

The families of both victims were in court to hear the plea.

“There’s no reason I should’ve walked away from those accidents. I continue to pray for both families for the rest of my life,” Constantineau said in the courtroom.

He apologized to both families for what he did.

“The Larson family appreciates the remorse they heard in court today and the apology and I think that while we may never have closure, that may help in moving forward,” Zachary Rivenbark, the Larson family attorney, said.

In December of 2015, Constantineau was driving on US 117 just south of NC 133 near the New Hanover County line when he crossed the center line and hit a car head-on. Ronald Larson, of Rocky Point, died in that crash. The truck caught on fire after the accident. Constantineau survived and was taken to the UNC Burn Clinic.

Ronald Larson (Photo: Zachary Rivenbark)

That’s not the first time Constantineau crossed the center line and killed a driver.

In 2010, Constantineau was driving on NC 211 near Supply when he crashed head-on into a car driven by 23-year-old Stephanie Heath. The young woman died just minutes later. Highway Patrol responded to the accident, but troopers did not draw blood from Constantineau, and there was no written evidence from notes or from witness statements that Constantineau was impaired. The hospital did draw blood from Constantineau after the accident. Results revealed he had methadone in his system.

In 2011, a judge ruled Constantineau, who was still awaiting trial in Heath’s death,unfit to operate any motor vehicle after a trooper stopped Constantineau in Pender County after he ran his moped into a ditch.

He finally pleaded guilty to misdemeanor death by motor vehicle in 2013.  He spent just 75 days behind bars.

But in this latest plea deal, he won’t be getting out in a matter of months. Constantineau received a sentence of between 10 and 15 years in prison, a far cry from the 75 days in jail he received in 2013.

“You just learn to live and move on, but it is the first time I’ve heard any remorse from Mr. Constantineau since the death of our daughter and I did appreciate that,” Ray Heath said.

The Heath family says they feel the Larson’s pain.

“That didn’t end when our trial was over. It’s ongoing. And I think that we will maintain contact willingly to support them as they move through their journey,” Kim Heath said.

Constatineau will receive credit for the two years he has already spent in jail and the judge revoked his driving privileges.

Categories: Local, Pender

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