By Marjorie Nesin
---- — GLOUCESTER — A man who escaped criminal charges for almost half a year in a case of alleged motor vehicular homicide outside Pond View apartments in Gloucester returned to Gloucester District Court for the second time, this time in shackles for a routine appearance yesterday.
James Hayes, 43, who was listed as living in Haverhill at the time of the May 18 incident but has since moved to Peabody, was accused of driving his vehicle over Michael Linscott, 29, of Salem after a heated argument, then backing over the man’s body.
Gloucester Police took Hayes to the station in the hours after the incident, but the DA’s office did not file any charges at that time.
After a clerk magistrate found probable cause for the vehicular homicide charge, police quietly filed a criminal complaint against Hayes on Halloween, He was arrested after failing to appear in court Dec. 3.
He has been held in Middleton Jail on $50,000 bail since his arrest.
When police escorted Hayes into the courtroom yesterday, he held a hand over his face and shrugged his body behind his attorney, Tom O’Shea. Lawyers on the case set Hayes’ next court date for Jan. 17.
O’Shea noted that he would like his own experts to review the information from the police report and collision reconstruction evidence. Assistant District Attorney Nathaniel Sears told Judge Joseph Jennings that he is preparing to hand the case off to Assistant District Attorney John Brennan, who will likely resume work on the case in Salem Superior Court.
If Hayes meets the terms of his bail and is released from jail, a stipulation of his release notes that he must stay away from the victim’s family and all witnesses except the mother of his children.
Linscott had been dating the mother of Hayes’ child.
In the police interview immediately following the 1 a.m. incident, Hayes said he had initially accelerated and struck Linscott as the man “lunged” at the open driver’s-side window of his vehicle.
“Hayes then stated he panicked and backed over Linscott,” state trooper Brandon R. Arakelian wrote in his report.
Gloucester police Detective Sean Conners, now a sergeant in the department, wrote in his report that when Hayes backed off Linscott’s body, he caused the “serious injuries.” An autopsy of Linscott’s body conducted at the state’s chief medical examiner’s office showed injuries “consistent with being run over by a car,” determining the cause of death as blunt trauma to the head and torso.
According to reports, Hayes had gone to the apartment complex to pick up his 3-year-old daughter from the child’s mother at her request. The child was inside the vehicle as it allegedly ran over Linscott.
Hayes told police that as he drove there just after midnight, he received calls from the girl’s mother with pleas for help. He told officers he could hear Linscott throwing and smashing items in the background.
Both Hayes and the child’s mother, also interviewed by police, told officers that Hayes had entered a side door to avoid Linscott. Still, the two “exchanged words” before Hayes carried his daughter outside to his 2013 Dodge Avenger and strapped her into a car seat.
The mother later told police that Linscott had challenged Hayes to a fight. She brought a diaper bag to the vehicle and Linscott followed, each interviewee said.
The child’s mother had initially told police she had not witnessed Hayes striking her boyfriend with the car. But, in an interview 11 days later, she told officers that she had turned and seen Linscott under the car and then watched as Hayes backed over him, with the child in the backseat of the vehicle.
Marjorie Nesin can be reached at 978-675-2710, or at email@example.com.