Teenager Aaron Deveau insists he was not texting when his car swerved and collided head-on with an oncoming pickup truck on Feb. 20, 2011, but 18 days after the crash, the man he hit died.
Now Deveau is on trial in Haverhill, Mass. in what could be a landmark case in the controversial topic of texting while driving. Deveau now stands accused of killing 55-year-old Donald Bowley.
Prosecutors allege that Deveau, who has pleaded not guilty, was texting the day his vehicle slipped across the center line of a Haverhill street and crashed into Bowley's truck.
"My brother received such severe head trauma that he had, there was no hope for him," the victim's sister Donna Bowley told ABC News.
Deveau was charged with motor vehicle homicide by negligent operation, negligent operation of a motor vehicle, being an operator under 18 using a mobile phone, being an operator reading or sending an electronic message, a marked lanes violation, and two counts of negligent operation and injury from mobile phone use.
Deveau's lawyer has said there is no evidence the crash caused Bowley's death, while Deveau told police he swerved to avoid a vehicle in front of him that slowed down, according to ABC News Boston affiliate WCVB.
Luz Roman, who was dating Bowley, also suffered serious injuries in the crash. When she took to the stand earlier this week, she broke down as she talked about being in the truck with Bowley that day.
"This is a miracle that I'm here," Roman told the court.
Prosecutors contend Deveau was not paying attention when the vehicles collided. Police say he received two messages: one at 2:34 p.m. and a second at 2:35 p.m., on the day of the crash. Prosecutors say the accident happened at 2:36 p.m.
"The defendant sent and received 193 texts on Feb 20, 2011," a prosecuting attorney in the case told the court.
In a videotaped statement recorded after the crash, Deveau, then 17, had a question for police: "If anything happens to them, if one passes away, what would happen to me?"
Texting while driving is a crime in Washington, D.C. and 38 states, including Massachusetts.
Many advocates of bans on texting while driving want to see the number of states outlawing it expand.
"I would like to see cell-phone use banned in all 50 states," said one advocate, Rob Reynolds. "We want to make this as socially unacceptable as like smoking has become in public places."
If convicted Deveau will face two years in prison. On the count of motor vehicle homicide, he faces sentence of up to 2½ years.