Prosecutor blasts handling of pedestrian fatal in Seabrook

TIM JEAN/Staff photoDawn Marie Barcellona, 58, sits with her defense attorney, Stephen Jeffco, during her bench trial in Rockingham Superior Court in Brentwood, N.H. 

SEABROOK — A prosecutor is blaming miscommunication among police agencies and its serious repercussions as the primary reason a fatal pedestrian accident on Ocean Boulevard was not thoroughly investigated a year ago. 

"An expert team was not sent out to reconstruct the scene," said Deputy Rockingham County Attorney Jennifer Haggar. 

Other pertinent evidence, including cruiser dash camera video, blood tests, the pedestrian's exact location and the driver's speed, either could not be found, were never gathered as evidence, or were not admissible in the case, officials said. 

Andrew "Dibba" Dobson, 51, a North Andover native, was killed Oct. 21, 2018, when he was struck about 8 p.m. by a Jeep driven by Dawn Marie Barcellona, 58, of Salisbury, who is on trial for drunk driving. 

Barcellona was in court Wednesday for a single misdemeanor charge of driving while under the influence. Rockingham Superior Court Judge Dan St. Hilaire took the matter under advisement and is expected to issue his ruling in the bench trial in the near future. 

About 10 minutes before the crash, when a friend was looking for her and asked where she was, Barcellona texted the word "drunk" in response, according to testimony Wednesday. 

Barcellona had been at a Salisbury Beach bar with friends since 4:30 p.m. that day. A bartender testified she made Barcellona three white Russians, a drink consisting of vodka, Kahlua and milk, and also served her water.

In a video admitted as evidence in court, a bartender is seen making Barcellona's drinks, pouring double liquors into a glass with ice for up to six seconds. 

Last week, Barcellona rejected a plea deal that would allow her to avoid jail time and instead pay a $500 fine and surrender her license for nine months. She opted to take the case to a trial. 

She did not testify in her own defense.

Dobson's relatives are outraged that more serious charges in the case weren't prosecuted, saying they are "disgusted and horrified."

Felony indictments for negligent homicide and driving under the influence against Barcellona were dropped.

That night while watching football games, Dobson left his parents' home on Commonwealth Avenue in Salisbury where he lived. He went to a nearby convenience store for a pack of cigarettes. 

Dobson, the father of a 12-year-old boy, was struck and killed on his way home. He was ripped out of his sneakers and suffered a cracked skull.  

Haggar said she shares the family's "frustration and dissatisfaction regarding this case."

She addressed reporters after the trial ended Wednesday afternoon, stressing the "miscommunication" that occurred between Seabrook police and New Hampshire State Police, which has a unit that investigates serious and fatal accidents. 

In her remarks, Haggar said she believes the misdemeanor DUI charge against Barcellona was proven "without a doubt" Wednesday.

But she pointed to "apparent miscommunication" and "lack of appropriate communication" between Seabrook and state police as the reason there was no accident reconstruction investigation and report. 

Haggar also said Barcellona's Jeep did not have a black box, a device investigators can analyze to determine speed, braking and other factors after a crash. 

The crash occurred on Ocean Boulevard (Route 1A) very close to the Salisbury line, Haggar said.

Barcellona failed some sobriety tests administered at the scene by Seabrook police Sgt. David Buccheri, he testified. 

Two and a half hours later, she was taken to Seabrook Emergency Room for a blood-alcohol test.

The accident occurred about 8 p.m. At 10:30 p.m., when the blood test was administered, her blood-alcohol level was .05. In order to be considered driving drunk, her blood-alcohol level would have needed to be .08 or higher at the time of the accident.

On Wednesday when Sgt. Buccheri took the stand as a prosecution witness, defense attorney Stephen Jeffco pressed him on field sobriety tests he administered to Barcellona and where the video of those tests was. 

Jeffco said there was even a court order to produce the video. 

"What you can tell me is the best evidence in a case like this is the actual video that shows the interaction of an officer with an accused citizen?" Jeffo asked.

"I'd agree with that," Buccheri said. 

Buccheri also testified that Barcellona told him that Dobson "stepped out in front of her vehicle" as she was slowing for a red light. 

Jeffco also asked him if "any formal investigation" was done in the case, including accident reconstruction. 

"Not to my knowledge," he said.  

Barcellona is employed as a server at Seaglass restaurant at Salisbury Beach. She had met friends that afternoon at Capri, another Salisbury Beach restaurant owned by the same company she works for. 

Haggar introduced surveillance video from Capri, which shows Barcellona drinking and eating with friends. However, the surveillance video ends before Barcellona leaves the bar.

"Where is the rest of the video?" questioned attorney Nicole Reilly, who is representing the Dobson family. 

Reilly is also stunned the crash, which involved a woman believed to be intoxicated, a Jeep striking a pedestrian, and the pedestrian dying, did not merit further police investigation. 

"Something is very wrong here and we feel they are circling the wagons. We are going to find out what happened," Reilly said. 

Follow staff reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter @EagleTribJill. 

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