standing Courts

A Warwick man involved in a 2016 collision in Charlestown that killed local musician Thomas Hug has been sentenced to 15 years in prison.

The man, Hunter C. Stephenson, 20, pleaded no contest Tuesday to charges of driving under the influence resulting in death and driving to endanger resulting in death. He will be required to serve 7 years in prison before being eligible for parole. Stephenson waived his right to a trial and was sentenced by Associate Justice Melanie Wilk Thunberg in Washington Superior Court at Wakefield.

Court documents indicated that he was ordered to undergo alcohol counseling, complete 25 hours of community service upon release, and surrender his right to drive for at least five years. He is also responsible for paying $6,643 in fines and court fees.

As a condition of his plea agreement, a third charge of being a minor in possession of alcohol was dismissed.

"These tragic events are yet another example of a young person making a bad decision to drive a motor vehicle while under the influence," Charlestown Police Lt. Philip Gingerella Sr. said in a press release. "The bad decision resulted in a lifetime of pain for both the operator's family and the victim's family."

A civil lawsuit filed on behalf of the family by Hug's mother, Jennifer Hug, remains active, according to Rhode Island court records.

Stephenson, who was 17 at the time, was charged in August 2016 after a head-on collision along Route 1. According to police and court documents, Hug was riding his motorcycle north on Route 1, heading to a friend's house, when Stephenson lost control of his car while driving southbound, crossed the center median and struck him, causing fatal injuries.

Hug was a classical guitar aficionado, member of the University of Rhode Island music community, and a guitar and piano teacher at More than Music in North Kingstown. He was 21 at the time of his death.

Stephenson was initially charged as a juvenile, but his name was released to the public on Sept. 6, 2016, after it was determined by the courts that he would be tried as an adult.

He initially pleaded not guilty to each charge, but retracted that plea on Tuesday as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors. The case had been scheduled to go to trial later this year.

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