PEABODY — A Peabody man facing up to 10 years behind bars was given an offer: admit to charges that he drove drunk for the fifth time, resisted arrest and drove on a suspended license, as well as to violating his probation, and he would spend just three to four years in prison.
But Peter Hurley, 51, couldn't even get through a routine hearing before a judge who wanted to make sure he understood his rights, first insisting that because he was in jail when the Registry sent a license suspension letter, he could still drive, and then quibbling over the meaning of a trial by a jury of his peers.
So now the deal's off the table.
Yesterday, Hurley began serving an 18-month sentence that had originally been suspended last August, when he pleaded guilty to beating up a former girlfriend.
Salem Superior Court Judge John Lu found that there was probable cause to believe that Hurley was drunk, in and of itself a violation of his probation, and that he had committed new crimes.
And when he goes to trial, likely later this year, on the drunken driving and other charges stemming from his arrest in November, none of that time will count — and he could spend up to another 81/2 years in custody if found guilty on all counts, and at least two.
Hurley has a lengthy record that includes numerous domestic abuse charges, including at least one incident involving his elderly parents, as well as four prior drunken driving convictions.
During yesterday's hearing, a woman who was there in support of Hurley suddenly stood up and announced: "He's lying," as a police officer testified about Hurley's arrest.
The woman had accompanied Hurley's mother to court.
Courts reporter Julie Manganis may be reached at 978-338-2521 or at email@example.com.