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Driver in fatal DUI crash sentenced 10-to-30 years

DOVER, N.H. -- A Wakefield woman convicted of manslaughter and negligent homicide after crushing a Maine man against a tree with her truck has been sentenced to up to 30 years in prison.

Michelle Byron, 35, was convicted in the June 2002 death of Derran Smith, 40, of Biddeford. The crash happened after Byron had been drinking in New Durham. Prosecutors said her blood alcohol level was more than three times the legal limit.

The defense argued that Byron had been sexually assaulted by another man before she crushed Smith. Prosecutors said there was no evidence of a sexual assault.

Friends and family of Smith, a father of two, addressed Byron on Tuesday at her sentencing hearing in Strafford County Superior Court, where she was ordered to spend the next 10 to 30 years in state prison.

County Attorney Janice Rundles asked for 15 to 30 years, while Byron's lead defense lawyer, Philip Desfosses, asked for a sentence of one to 30 years. Most of the seven people who spoke during the victims' impact statements asked that she be given the maximum sentence.

"I hoped for more," said Smith's daughter, Julie. "But I'm glad it was nothing less than 10 years."

Julie Smith, who is expecting her first child in April, told Byron during her statement it was time to pay for what she had done not only to her father, but to those who loved him. She called Byron "heartless, unstable and a danger to the community."

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