SALEM — A paroled killer with seven prior convictions for driving under the influence told Salem District Court jurors yesterday that he was “frozen” to the steering wheel as his car slowly veered back and forth across Route 128 north one evening in February.
“I couldn’t pull over,” Andrew Millyan, 56, testified. “I thought I was a goner. I thought I had a stroke or something.”
But, prosecutor Jane Prince later pointed out, Millyan was able to stop when he saw the blue lights of a Manchester-by-the-Sea police cruiser behind him — some 20 miles after a Salem State University student first spotted him driving erratically in rush-hour traffic on Feb. 16.
“When I seen lights,” Millyan began to explain, before pausing. “How am I going to say this ... when I seen the blue lights, I was already stopping.”
Not according to Manchester-by-Sea Patrolman Kevin Gordon, who had followed Millyan’s Ford Taurus for about a mile as it straddled the fog line along the side of the highway.
Prosecutors allege that Millyan, of North Grafton, was impaired by the use of Percocet, one of a lengthy list of drugs, both prescription and illegal, found in a urine sample he provided after his arrest.
Millyan and his lawyer, Clint Muche, contend that it was simply a bad reaction to a new blood pressure medication he had started taking a day earlier, one that came with a warning from his doctor about potential dizziness.
Under questioning by Muche, Millyan described how he’d taken the blood pressure medication the day before, then forgot until later in the day on Feb. 16.
Millyan testified that as he was leaving his workplace in Framingham, where he had gone to pick up a paycheck, he began to feel “dizzy” and rested in his car, then decided to head to his sister’s home in Wilmington.
At some point as he got onto Route 128, he began to lose his sense of direction, he testified.
He stopped briefly in Wakefield, then pulled back out onto the road.
It was somewhere in that area that Salem State student Cyndi St. George, 22, found herself behind Millyan’s Taurus, which was going “out of control,” she said.
“I watched him hit the guardrail, and then go onto the dirt,” St. George testified. She called police on her cellphone and continued following the Taurus, which was traveling at no more than 35 mph.
As other cars passed Millyan, she hung behind, giving state police details as she drove. She watched him appear to pull over near Exit 19 in Beverly, then suddenly veer across the road.
While Millyan didn’t hit any other drivers, there were “four close calls,” St. George testified.
Gordon testified that Millyan was driving without headlights. There was extensive damage to the driver’s-side door and mirror. And Millyan was also in poor shape, sweating profusely and pale, Gordon testified.
State Trooper Peter Sherber, a former emergency medical technician who had also been trained in some drug use recognition techniques, testified that Millyan showed signs of drug use that included “pinpoint” pupils and lethargy.
After a series of field sobriety tests, “The only logical conclusion I could come to is he was impaired by drugs,” Sherber testified.
Police also found four bags of marijuana in Millyan’s car.
Asked by the prosecutor to explain the drugs, Millyan, who despite having traces of the active ingredient of marijuana in his urine, denied using marijuana. He said it belonged to a friend.
Who was the friend, Prince asked.
“Why is that relevant?” Millyan snapped. He went on to say that a woman that his friend had “picked up” had then borrowed his car and left the drugs behind.
And what about the cocaine metabolites in his urine, indicating that he’d used the drug within the prior three days?
“Why do you take two months to test it?” Millyan shot back. “That state police lab is wrong.”
The testing was conducted at the Sudbury crime lab, which is run by the state police and is not connected with the current drug-testing scandal at the Department of Public Health lab.
Millyan twice testified that he had mowed his lawn that morning. It was unclear, however, why he would have had to do that chore in the middle of February.
The trial got under way after a series of motions, as well as a disclosure by the prosecution that Millyan’s call from the state police barracks to his lawyer was inadvertently recorded on a surveillance system, a violation of attorney-client privilege.
In that call, however, Millyan was heard telling his lawyer that he’d “taken too many” Percocets. Jurors were not given that information, however, because of the way it was obtained.
Jurors were also not given details about Millyan’s history.
Millyan is on parole for the 1981 shooting death of a patron inside a Revere bar where Millyan and a second man showed up, looking to retaliate against a rival gang for a beating. Millyan opened fire inside the Sandbar Lounge, striking a man playing pool, who died of head wounds. He was convicted of first-degree murder, but the conviction was later reduced to second-degree murder and he was paroled after serving 20 years.
Prior to the shooting, Millyan had racked up some seven prior DUI convictions.
Jurors, however, will be told none of that information, because it is considered too prejudicial against Millyan, who at the time of his arrest in February had a valid Massachusetts driver’s license.
Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at email@example.com or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.