, Salem, MA

Local News

April 16, 2014

Serial drunken driver found guilty

Hearing set to prove offense was fifth OUI conviction

PEABODY — A serial drunken driver, who was charged with yet another OUI, was found guilty by a jury Monday afternoon in Lawrence Superior Court. Prosecutors now need to prove it was the man’s fifth drunken-driving offense.

Peter Hurley, 52, was arrested in Peabody on Nov. 4, 2011, after Peabody officers saw him pull out of a parking lot on Walnut Street by driving over a curb and then run two red lights in downtown Peabody. The case finally went to trial last November, but it ended in a mistrial after two officers brought up past history with Hurley during witness testimony.

Judge David Lowy at the time had barred testimony about Hurley’s past arrests on the grounds that it could bias the jury’s decision.

Hurley’s attorney, Kirk Bransfield, moved to dismiss the case, arguing that there was a long pattern of police misconduct and prejudice against his client. That motion was dismissed, and a new trial was conducted.

Hurley was charged with drunken driving, a fifth or subsequent offense, resisting arrest, making a threat to commit a crime and operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license, subsequent offense. The last charge was dismissed, however, according to Carrie Kimball Monahan, a spokeswoman for the Essex District Attorney’s Office.

Monahan said another hearing is scheduled for April 22 at noon in Lawrence Superior Court with Judge Richard Welch. The purpose of that session is to prove that the 2011 offense was Hurley’s fifth drunken-driving conviction. She said that proceeding usually occurs before a judge, but it could go to trial, as well.

Sentencing in the case is expected to happen the same day once a verdict is reached. Hurley is currently in custody.

You can reach John Castelluccio at 978-338-2527, or via Twitter at @SNjcastelluccio.

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