[This article has been updated to reflect a correction in the number of community service hours Brandon Arnott was ordered to serve.]
It was around 2:30 a.m. on Dec. 11, 2011 when 18-year-old Robert Habeeb of Peabody crashed his car into the side of a West Peabody home.
The teen's life was undoubtedly spared when four firefighters pulled him from the flaming wreck -- those firefighters recently received a state award for their heroism -- and police later charged Habeeb with drunk driving.
Following the resolution of a social host case in Peabody District Court on Wednesday, the District Attorney's office says it was prepared to go to trial and show that Habeeb and another teen both drove off from an underage party that night while intoxicated.
Deborah Arnott, 42, of 31 Elizabeth Ln. pleaded guilty in court to providing alcohol for the party at her home while her 18-year-old son, Brandon Arnott, admitted to sufficient facts to find him guilty of intimidating a witness and misleading a police officer about the incident, according to a statement from DA spokesperson Carrie Kimball-Monahan.
“These defendants’ egregious actions demonstrated a total disregard for the law which justifies the Commonwealth’s request for committed time. The adult failed in her responsibility to ensure the safety of the children at her home and her son repeatedly lied to police during the investigation,” said DA Jonathan Blodgett.
“Two teenagers left their home and were charged with driving while intoxicated, thus endangering themselves and the rest of the community. One of those teenagers is, frankly, lucky to be alive right now,” Blodgett said.
The statement said Deborah Arnott was found guilty by Judge Richard Mori and sentenced to one year of probation. She must also pay $500 in court costs and attend a half-day Brains At Risk program.
Assistant DA Aimee Conway had asked for Arnott to get jail time, however -- six months on a one-year sentence in the House of Corrections.
“She ignored her responsibility by allowing underage partygoers to continue drinking alcohol in her home and failed to monitor those partygoers to ensure that they did not get into a vehicle, drive, and put the entire community at risk,” Conway said.
Mori continued Brandon Arnott's case without a finding for 18 months, according to Kimball-Monahan, but ordered the teen to abstain from alcohol, submit to random screens, write a letter of apology to the Peabody police, perform 50 hours of community service, attend a half-day Brains At Risk program and pay $250 in restitution to the police.
Conway, again, asked for a harsher penalty -- six months of a one-year sentence in the House of Corrections because of the teen's “repeated disregard for the authority of the Peabody Police Department and his continuous efforts to derail the investigation into a serious criminal matter.”
Kimball-Monahan said Conway had enough evidence to prove Brandon Arnott had about 20 underage friends at his home on Dec. 10 for a drinking party. His mother arrived home around 10 p.m., told the guests to sleep over and then went to bed.
At some point later, Habeeb and another guest left the home in separate vehicles. Kimball-Monahan said Habeeb did plead guilty to driving under the influence and driving to endanger.
As for the charges against Brandon Arnott, Conway would have proven he repeatedly lied to police officers during their investigation about the number of guests, whether his mother knew there was alcohol in the home and who purchased the alcohol, according to Kimball-Monahan.