Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin announced that Joseph Kalen, age 50, with a last known address of 99 Peck Street, Bristol, pleaded nolo contendere today in Newport County Superior Court to DUI death resulting and driving to endanger resulting in physical injury.
Superior Court Justice Edward C. Clifton sentenced Kalen to 15 years, with seven years to serve, and the remainder suspended with probation on the count of DUI death resulting. Kalen was sentenced to two years suspended with probation, to run concurrent, on the charge of driving to endanger resulting in physical injury. In addition, Justice Clifton ordered Kalen to undergo substance abuse counseling and suspended his license for five years upon release from the ACI.
Had the case proceeded to trial, the State was prepared to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that on June 12, 2013, the motor vehicle driven by an impaired Joseph Kalen struck the motor vehicle driven by Elia Giusti (age 79) of Bristol, RI and Ft. Lauderdale, FL, causing his death. Kalen's vehicle also struck the motor vehicle driven by Brian Leitao (age 27) of Warren, RI, causing him injury.
On June 12, 2013, at approximately 4:45 p.m., Portsmouth Police responded to Bristol Ferry Road for a motor vehicle collision.
Elia Giusti, operating a 2005 Lexus LS430 sedan, was traveling in the left northbound lane of Bristol Ferry Road and approaching Mare Terrace. Joseph Kalen was operating a silver 2005 Ford F-150 pickup truck traveling southbound on Bristol Ferry Road. A nearly head-on collision occurred between the pickup truck operated by Joseph Kalen and the passenger vehicle operated by Elia Giusti on the northbound side of Bristol Ferry Road.
Brian Leitao, operating a gray 2006 Ford F-150 pickup truck, was traveling behind Giusti on Bristol Ferry Road. After Kalen's pickup truck disengaged from the collision with the Lexus, it rotated and struck the left side of Leitao's pickup truck.
Elia Giusti sustained fatal injuries as a result of the crash and was pronounced dead a short time after. Brian Leitao was transported to Newport Hospital for his injuries and released that same day.
When the police arrived on scene, Joseph Kalen was seated on the sidewalk near the collision scene with severe lacerations on his face and with the strong aroma of a recently consumed alcoholic beverage emanating from his mouth.
At Newport Hospital, where Joseph Kalen had been taken for treatment of his injuries, Portsmouth Police Officer Daguanno interacted with Kalen, observing that his speech was mumbled and slurred, and the aroma of the recently consumed alcoholic beverage was very strong on Kalen's breath. Portsmouth Police obtained a warrant to take Kalen's blood once he refused to submit to a chemical test. Blood tests showed that Kalen's blood alcohol content was .249, more than three times the legal limit.
"Getting behind the wheel of a vehicle drunk is a tragedy waiting to happen, forever changing the lives of innocent victims and their families," said Attorney General Peter Kilmartin. "The dangers and consequences of drunk driving are known by everyone, yet it doesn't stop people, like Joseph Kalen, from driving impaired. It is a senseless and deadly act that must end."
Portsmouth Police Deputy Chief. Brian Peters and Detectives Mark Mooney and Michael Arnold led the investigation. Special Assistant Attorney General John Corrigan prosecuted the case on behalf of the Office of Attorney General.