Kaitlin McKinley Becker

Emotional Testimony Continues in Fatal Sweet Tomatoes Restaurant Crash

The defense rarely cross-examined the witnesses as prosecutors tried to prove it was a crime, not an accident

Emotional testimony continued Friday in the trial of a man accused of killing two people when he crashed his vehicle into a Sweet Tomatoes restaurant in 2016.

Restaurant workers who were injured and family members of the victims who were killed took the stand for the prosecution.

Brad Casler, 57, is facing two counts of motor vehicle homicide for the West Newton crash. His lawyer is arguing it was an accident, not a crime, and caused after his client suffered a medical emergency.

The incident killed 57-year-old Eleanor Miele of Watertown and 32-year-old Gregory Morin of Newton.

“I said I would pick up our daughter and he said he would grab dinner,” Erica Morin said on the stand, remembering the last thing her husband said to her before he died.

The defense rarely cross-examined the witnesses as prosecutors tried to prove it was a crime, not an accident.

Casey Vaughan was the manager at the time and one of several who was hurt inside the restaurant. She never worked there again after what happened.

“I just remember I could see smoke,” Vaughan said. “At the moment, all I could feel was a burning sensation.”

Her co-workers also testified, some of them crying as they remembered the terrifying moments inside the restaurant.

Several witnesses who rushed to help also testified, including a good Samaritan who helped pull a stranger from the rubble and a high school student who ran to the police station.

Caleb Butler, now 18 and a delivery driver at Sweet Tomatoes, said he and his high school friends saw Casler’s car traveling at a high rate of speed right before the crash.

“It was going so fast, me and my friends stopped in our tracks,” Butler said. “There was no way that car was stopping.”

A number of first responders also took to the stand and described their interactions with Casler right after the crash. They said he appeared stoic and in shock, and when they asked for an explanation, they said he told them the car accelerated on its own.

“Then asked if there were more than two bodies and he asked if he could get his groceries in the vehicle,” Newton police officer Megan McLean said.

The jury was dismissed for the weekend. Testimony will pick back up again first thing Monday morning with deliberations to begin the following week.

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