Police & Fire

Man to serve seven years for Alton crash that killed his brother’s mother-in-law

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BANGOR — The man charged with causing a crash last year that killed his brother’s mother-in-law was sentenced Tuesday, July 24 at the Penobscot Judicial Center to 20 years in prison with all but seven years suspended and the loss of his driver’s license for life.

Tyler Creighton, 25, of Medford was sentenced after pleading guilty to manslaughter, aggravated criminal operating under the influence of intoxicants and violation of condition of release in connection with the Nov. 24 crash that killed Robin Gardner, 63, of LaGrange. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Creighton is the half-brother of Gardner’s son-in-law, Alex Creighton.

Tyler Creighton was returning from a methadone clinic in Bangor when the crash took place at about 7:37 a.m. the day after Thanksgiving on Route 16, when Creighton’s car crossed the centerline and struck Gardner’s vehicle, according to Marianne Lynch, assistant district attorney for Penobscot County. Creighton admitted to police at the scene that he was texting at the time of the crash.

A blood test from Creighton taken shortly after the crash showed that Creighton had a drug cocktail in his system that included an antidepressant, marijuana, methadone and codeine, Lynch told the judge.

Creighton said he battled with drug addiction for five years before the crash. He apologized for his actions.

“I just want the Gardner family to know that I’m truly sorry,” he said.

Gardner’s family members and friends were in court. They prepared two videos of family photos, one featuring Gardner, and the other featuring her only son, Alexander Gardner, 35, of LaGrange.

Gardner was killed a week after his mother’s death, on the same road where she was killed. His truck struck a tree less than a mile from where Creighton’s vehicle had collided with his mother’s car.

Robin Gardner was heading to Old Town to open the cafe at the storefront church, New Life, her daughter, the Rev. Brooke Gardner, had founded, when she was killed.

The minister urged Superior Court Justice Ann Murray to sentence Creighton as if he had taken the life of her own mother and brother.

Creighton’s family also were in court but did not address the judge. They submitted letters to Murray for her consideration in determining what sentence to impose.

In addition to prison time, Murray sentenced Creighton to four years of probation. Conditions include no drug or alcohol use, treatment for addiction and no contact with the victim’s family. Murray ordered him to pay fines and more than $2,900 toward Gardner’s funeral expenses.

In his plea agreement with the prosecution, a charge of driving to endanger was dismissed.

At the time of the crash, he was on bail for an Oct. 23 drunken driving charge in Piscataquis County, his second that year. Creighton pleaded guilty to that charge Tuesday in addition to the charges related to the fatal crash. He was convicted of operating under the influence of intoxicants in March 2017.

Creighton has been held at the Penobscot County Jail since his arrest on the day of the crash, after being unable to post $10,000 cash bail. That time will be applied to his seven-year sentence.

The Gardner family has hired an attorney to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit against Creighton, according to Lynch.

Tyler Creighton

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