WOBURN (CBS) — The Newton man charged in the fatal crash at Sweet Tomatoes restaurant last March pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Monday in Middlesex Superior Court.
Bradford Casler, 55, was charged earlier this month with two counts of motor vehicle homicide and one count of operating a motor vehicle to endanger.
Prosecutors said his Multiple Sclerosis did not play a factor in the crash–but speed did.
He was released on personal recognizance. Prosecutors wanted him held on $10,000 bail.
They said Casler drove his Volkswagen SUV through a red light and intersection, hitting several cars before crashing through the front of the restaurant on March 1.
According to the District Attorney, Casler said his break pedal stuck–but investigators found nothing wrong with his SUV.
“Essentially, the defendant accelerated through the intersection at Washington Street through a red light, clipped two vehicles, and then drove straight into the Sweet Tomatoes restaurant,” said Prosecutor Christopher Tarrant in court Monday.
One witness said Casler was driving so fast, a wind blew as the SUV passed.
Two people were killed, 32-year-old Gregory Morin of Newton and 57-year-old Eleanor Miele of Watertown. Seven other people were hurt.
Miele’s relatives were in court Monday for Casler’s arraignment.
Casler’s attorney, David , said his client has “nothing but sadness and sorrow” about what happened.
“At the end of the day, this was truly a tragic accident,” Meier said after Casler’s arraignment. “I think the evidence in court is going to bear that out.”
After the crash, Casler’s driver’s license was revoked. His attorney said he has not driven since he was taken from the scene, and “will likely never drive again.”
Both attorneys mentioned that Casler has Multiple Sclerosis, but said the crash was not caused by his disease.
Meier said that, for the past 27 years, his client has been treated for MS at area hospitals. Those treatments include daily injections, as well as monthly intravenous infusions.
The exact details of the charges are not yet known, as the court documents related to the case have been impounded pending a Thursday hearing.
Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan said the “complicated” nature of the investigation was the reason it took so long to bring charges against Casler.
”These are complicated situations,” said Ryan. “We do a full and fair investigations. In these situations, it takes a long time. We are also often dependent on information from other agencies, awaiting that and presenting that information to the grand jury.”
The city of Newton installed safety barriers in front of the restaurant earlier this month.
It is not yet clear when Sweet Tomatoes, which has been closed since the crash, will reopen.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Carl Stevens reports