By Lisa Redmond
AYER -- A 27-year-old Ayer man is facing negligent-driving and animal-cruelty charges after Littleton police say he deliberately crossed a double-yellow line and struck a gaggle of geese in the opposite lane, killing one adult and two goslings.
The June 1 incident was reported by Boxboro Animal Control Officer Phyllis Tower, who happened to be driving behind John M. Defrancesco as he drove along Taylor Street at 3:15 p.m.
In Ayer District Court on Wednesday, Defrancesco, pleaded not guilty to charges of negligent operation of motor vehicle, cruelty to animals and marked-lanes violation.
Defrancesco, of 9 Main St., Apt. 3, was released on personal recognizance.
Defrancesco could not be reached for comment because no telephone listing could be found for him.
But in court documents, Littleton police say that on June 1, about two hours after the incident, Defrancesco called police and told them that he was driving on Taylor Street, which he drives every day, and struck an animal he thought was a turkey due to all the feathers he saw in his rear-view mirror. He told police he was tired.
According to court documents, that area of Taylor Road is known for turtle and geese crossings during the spring.
When police arrived at the scene they saw three dead geese moved to the side of the roadway and a large blood splatter in the roadway. A fourth goose was in some nearby water, with one of its legs broken and twisted up behind its back, court documents state.
In her statement to police, Tower wrote that as she drove north of Taylor Street she saw a family of geese in the opposite lane. There was no traffic other than a small silver car in front of her.
Tower wrote that she slowed down, assuming the silver car in front of her would be slowing down.
Instead, the silver car was still moving at a high rate of speed, swerved over the double-yellow line, into the opposite lane, running over most of the family of geese, never hitting his brakes and driving on, she wrote.
"One adult goose and two babies were flopping around in the road in pain," she wrote. "It was horrific."
Tower told Littleton police that another vehicle had turned around and got the registration number of the silver car. The registration came back to Defrancesco.
Defrancesco told police a man tracked him down, got out of his car and yelled at him saying he was going to call the police.
His next court date is Dec. 12 for a pretrial conference and the appearance of an attorney.
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