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  • Staff photo by Don Himsel

    Yvonne Hernandez stands with her attorneys as jurors tour the area near Slades and Nashua City Hall Monday, December 7 2009.
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel

    Yvonne Hernandez stands near Elm Street in Nashua during the jury view portion of her trial Monday, December 7, 2009.
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel

    Yvonne Hernandez's car in the Nashua Police Department impound lot.
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel

    Yvonne Hernandez's car in the Nashua Police Department impound lot, December 7 2009.
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel

    Slades's, Nashua
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel

    Flanked by her attorneys, Yvonne Hernandez watches and listens to prosecutors describe the accident scene.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Live Video: Hernandez trial gets under way

NASHUA – Ivonne Hernandez was angry and bent on revenge when she turned her car around, punched the gas and brutally ran down Matthew Beaudoin a year ago, killing him.

Or, the 29-year-old Beaudoin was one of four strangers harassing Hernandez in a city parking lot, intimidating her, shouting and banging on her car, and boxing her into a dirt lot. It was purely a tragic accident that she hit Beaudoin and his friend, Maria Hughes. She was just trying to escape and go home.

The jury in the Ivonne Hernandez murder trial at Hillsborough County Superior Court heard the first day of testimony Monday and will eventually have to determine which of those two versions is the truth.

Hernandez, 45, is charged with second-degree murder, assault and reckless conduct. The state has accused her of using her maroon 1997 Dodge Intrepid to strike and kill Beaudoin in a dirt lot near the intersection of Elm and West Hollis streets during the early morning hours of May 2, 2008.

During the state’s opening statements Monday afternoon, Assistant Attorney General Diana Fenton said the most chilling part of the case is that Hernandez had no good reason to turn her car around and drive at Beaudoin and his friends.

“She was angry with them and she wanted the last word,” Fenton said. “There was nothing preventing her from going home.”

One of Hernandez’s lawyers, public defender Brianna Sinon, told a very different version of that night. Beaudoin and three friends, including Robert Goodspeed Jr., Brooke Garger and Hughes, were gathered at Hernandez’s car.

They began harassing Hernandez, Sinon said, calling her names and not letting her get into her car. When she did start to leave, they chased her and prevented her from turning right onto Elm Street. Instead, she drove across the street into a dirt lot next to Maynard & Lesieur tire shop. She only turned around, Sinon said, because it looked like a dead end.

“She never meant to hurt anyone. All she wanted to do was get away,” Sinon said. “This case is about a woman who was being terrorized for no reason, who was just trying to escape. That is not murder. That is a terrible accident.”

Goodspeed, who spent part of the evening at Slade’s Food & Spirits with Beaudoin and was present when he was hit, was the first witness called during the trial.

He said he left the bar at closing time a few minutes after Beaudoin and walked over to the City Hall parking lot to say good night. The first he saw of Hernandez, who had spent the night at the nearby 603 Lounge, was her punching Garger, he testified.

All four of them started yelling at Hernandez, who got in her car and pulled out, almost running over Beaudoin’s foot, Goodspeed said. Beaudoin hit her rear, driver’s side window and jogged after the car into the Maynard & Lesieur lot.

Goodspeed yelled “run” when he saw Hernandez’s car turn around and then heard the collision. He saw that Hernandez had hit Beaudoin and his body had smashed the passenger side of the car’s windshield, Goodspeed testified.

Hernandez’s car stopped when it crashed into a parking meter on Elm Street, flinging Beaudoin into the street.

The trial began as jurors and Judge Robert Lynn boarded a bus and traveled to the scene of the crime. They toured the City Hall area, including the location of Slade’s, where Hernandez’s car was parked, and the dirt lot next to Maynard & Lesieur where Beaudoin was struck.

They also looked at the damage to Hernandez’s car, which has been stored at the Nashua Police Department impound lot since last May.

Hernandez, wearing a long black sweater, black slacks and black high-heeled shoes, left the impound lot in tears shortly after entering. Flanked by a pair of Hillsborough County Sheriff’s deputies, she looked on from just outside the lot.

Both sides’ opening statements grabbed the jury’s attention. Fenton described the group’s night out as fun, and maybe a little bit silly, leading up to the confrontation in the City Hall parking lot.

Beaudoin and his friends chanted “Yankees suck!” when they spotted a New York Yankees insignia on the back window of Hernandez’s car. While Beaudoin chased her partway down the dirt lot, Fenton said, Hernandez could have turned onto Beech Street and left. Instead, she turned around, sped up to about 26 mph and ran into Beaudoin. Hughes also suffered a knee injury from the collision.

Fenton described in detail Beaudoin’s injuries, including two broken legs, bruises and scrapes all over his body and a major head trauma that made his face swell so much it was unrecognizable. Hernandez only stopped 30 feet later, Fenton said, when she hit the parking meter.

Hernandez’s blood-alcohol content was around twice the legal limit for driving and she had marijuana in her system. She also didn’t try to stop or swerve away from the group, Fenton said.

“She didn’t do anything to avoid hitting Matthew. She just kept driving,” she said.

Sinon’s opening statement included the dramatic 911 call Hernandez made from inside her car immediately after the accident. Much of the tape was difficult to understand, but you could hear screaming and Hernandez telling the operator she had been beaten up and she had hit someone.

The tape ends when Nashua police officers arrive and start yelling for everyone to get away.

Sinon said Beaudoin’s three friends were still beating on Hernandez’s car and screaming at her when police arrived.

Hernandez admitted to police at the scene that she had been drinking, and that she had hit two people with her car by accident, according to court records. Speaking later with detectives James Testaverde and Joe Molinari, she allegedly admitted that she had gunned her car across the dirt parking lot toward the group on purpose, meaning to scare them.

Hernandez and her lawyers argue the detectives lied to her, implying that Beaudoin was still alive and receiving medical care, and essentially told her what to say about the crash. She also claims that although detectives had read her Miranda rights, one of the detectives told her their conversation was “between you, me and him . . . the three of us in this room.”

Hernandez has been jailed since her arrest immediately after the accident.

The trial continues today at 10 a.m. and is expected to last two weeks.

Joseph G. Cote can be reached at 594-6415 or