DANVERS — The lawyer for a paroled killer now facing his eighth charge of driving under the influence argued yesterday that Andrew Millyan was not high, but suffering from a bad reaction to a new blood pressure drug.
But Salem District Court Judge Michael Lauranzano found that Millyan poses too great a risk to public safety to release under any conditions and granted a prosecutor's motion to detain him without bail pending trial.
Millyan, 55, of South Grafton, was arrested Feb. 16 after traveling some 20 miles north on Route 128, causing a severe backup of rush-hour traffic, prosecutor Jane Prince told the judge.
Several other drivers called state police to report that Millyan was driving without headlights and veering back and forth across the road, bouncing off the guardrails at least twice.
Prince said Millyan created "quite a scene" on the highway. Manchester-by-the-Sea police finally managed to stop him in their town around 6:20 p.m.
State Trooper Peter Sherber said in his report that Millyan was sweating heavily, with twitching eyelids and a lethargic demeanor. He failed field sobriety tests. A police officer trained as a drug recognition expert concluded that he was under the influence of drugs.
Prince cited Millyan's seven-page criminal record, including seven drunken-driving convictions between 1975 and 1979, his 20 years in prison for murder, and a two-year sentence for marijuana possession with intent to distribute after his release on parole.
Millyan was originally convicted of first-degree murder after firing a shotgun inside a Revere Beach bar in 1981, killing an innocent bystander who was playing pool. The conviction was reduced to second-degree murder, however, in part due to his use of alcohol before the incident, and he was paroled after serving 20 years.
There have also been a string of accidents, including three in which Millyan was deemed at fault, since his release, the prosecutor noted.
"This is a man who has demonstrated throughout his life a reckless disregard for others," Prince said.
Police also noted that Millyan was trying to stuff four bags of marijuana into his jacket when they approached.
It turns out that Millyan was charged and lost his license for possession of marijuana with intent to distribute in 2009.
Despite that and his string of drunken-driving convictions in the 1970s, Millyan was given his license back in 2010, according to his driver history from the Registry of Motor Vehicles.
It was at that hearing that he met a man who testified yesterday as a character witness during the hearing. Russell White of West Boylston said he was at a hearing to try to get his own daughter a hardship license and that Millyan had given her "sage advice." White and Millyan have been friends since then, he said.
Defense lawyer Clint Muche also called Millyan's sister, Kathleen Murray of Wilmington, to the stand, where she told Judge Michael Lauranzano that if Millyan is released, she could take him in.
She said her brother had been seriously injured in a motorcycle accident in 2004 or 2005 and had been taking Percocet since then for the pain.
Muche told the judge that Millyan had also started taking a new blood pressure medication, which his doctor now believes interacted with the Percocet, causing what Muche called "involuntary intoxication."
Muche also told the judge that Millyan wouldn't be released from custody anytime soon, regardless of the ruling, because he's also facing detention pending a parole violation hearing.
"If I might ask, why are we having a hearing?" the judge asked.
"Because Mr. Millyan would prefer to be held on the (parole) detainer," Muche answered, explaining that Millyan prefers state prison to Middleton Jail, where he's currently being held.
Lauranzano, in granting the prosecutor's motion for dangerousness, ordered Millyan held at Middleton.
A status hearing in the case is scheduled for April 5.
Courts reporter Julie Manganis may be reached at 978-338-2521 or email@example.com.