Kesseli remanded back to Youth Development Center

By Lisa Williams Ackley

Staff Writer

The 18-year-old teenage girl charged with killing a passenger in her car in a single-vehicle accident in Harrison one year ago has been remanded to the Long Creek Youth Development Center in South Portland for an alleged violation of conditions of release, following a court hearing in Bridgton on Monday.

One month ago, a judge at Ninth District Court in Bridgton ordered that Morgan L. Kesseli, of Paris, be allowed to return home with her mother and stepfather, under house arrest and wearing a “robo cuff” with strict conditions of release.

Kesseli has been charged in the death of 19-year-old Thomas Colby McLendon, of Oxford, and the serious bodily injury of two other passengers. She was a 17-year-old juvenile when the 2003 Chevrolet Trailblazer she was allegedly driving failed to negotiate a curve, crossed the center line and left Route 35 around 8:15 p.m. on Oct. 21, 2010, crashing into a stand of trees. McLendon was pronounced dead at the scene and another passenger, Jacob R. Hill, 20, of Waterford, was critically injured and airlifted to a Lewiston hospital. Kesseli and a third passenger, 21-year-old Timothy S. Coffin, of Waterford, were transported to a local hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries. The police investigation into the crash determined “that excessive speed was the primary causation factor.”

Kesseli, who entered no plea at her arraignment in August of this year, faces felony charges of manslaughter, elevated aggravated assault, aggravated assault, reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon and aggravated driving to endanger.

On Sept. 26, Judge Paul Eggert ordered that Kesseli, who had previously been held at the Long Creek Youth Development Center, could return home with her mother and stepfather, Lisa and Eric Palmer, with strict conditions of release.

Judge Eggert said that conditions of release for Kesseli “would also include having her under house arrest with a substance abuse program in place — and if she slips at all, she’s, in fact, busted.” She was ordered, at that time, to abstain from using alcohol or illicit drugs, not to use or operate a motor vehicle and to participate in an outpatient substance abuse counseling program until she could be admitted to an residential inpatient treatment program at Crossroads in Windham.

On Oct. 24, Judge Keith Powers found that Kesseli had violated the conditions of her release by testing positive for illegal drug use. The court found that Kesseli had tested positive for more than one illegal substance on Sept. 21, and she was remanded to the LCYDC on Oct. 12 by Judge Powers, until such time as Monday’s hearing could take place.

Now, Judge Powers has ruled that Kesseli must remain at the South Portland LCYDC detention facility until a hearing scheduled for 9 a.m. on Jan. 23, 2012.

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