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November 15, 2013

Serial drunken driver standing trial

PEABODY — A Peabody man who last year turned down an offer for a three- to-four year prison term if he pleaded guilty to his fifth drunken-driving charge was threatened with a trial in absentia yesterday after he continuously interrupted both his lawyer and the judge.

Peter Hurley, 52, now faces up to 81/2 years in prison, after opting to take his chances at trial on charges that include drunken driving, resisting arrest, threatening to commit a crime and driving after license suspension. That trial got underway yesterday in Salem Superior Court.

His arrest more than two years ago, on Nov. 4, 2011, came after Peabody Patrolman Richard Rose was pulling out of a Dunkin’ Donuts onto Walnut Street when he saw a small Toyota SUV drive out of another parking lot, over a curb, without any headlights on.

The officer began following Hurley as he allegedly drove through two red lights, ignoring the cruiser’s flashing blue lights, prosecutor Ashlee Logan told the jury during her opening statement in Hurley’s trial yesterday.

The SUV eventually pulled into a parking lot of a business, then continued on to the back of the lot, which abuts a wooded area. Logan described how Rose watched Hurley get out of the driver’s side and the SUV’s 74-year-old owner, a woman, get out of the passenger side.

Hurley then staggered toward the woods, falling several times. Rose testified that he smelled alcohol.

Logan said Hurley was “combative,” struggling and arguing with the officer. On the way to the police station, Hurley allegedly threatened “I’m gonna stick you, I’m gonna slice you up,” the prosecutor told the jury.

Ultimately, it would take a total of seven officers to get Hurley to the booking area of the police station, where he again fell. He continuously swore, spit blood and tried to kick the officers, said Logan.

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