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Trial of Tarpon Springs man accused of boating fatality begins

LARGO — It was a day of partying, boating and arguments that ended with the death of 50-year-old Robin Raihan.

So said the prosecutors in the first day of the trial of Matthew Aime, who is charged with piloting a boat while drunk in a November 2005 crash that killed one of his closest friends.

Prosecutors said Aime, of Tarpon Springs, was driving the 14-foot aluminum boat when it careened out of the channel onto the mud flats and crashed into a dock around midnight Nov. 17, 2005.

Raihan died at the scene from drowning with a contributing factor of blunt trauma. Also on board were Aime's sister, Amanda Aime, and his former girlfriend, Cassandra Stuttle.

But Aime's defense attorney said it was unclear who was driving that night.

"A tragedy does not make a crime," said attorney Clementine Conde.

The group had gone to see the sunset, then went to two bars at the Sponge Docks that evening.

The group left after Stuttle got into an argument, Amanda Aime and Stuttle said. They were heading back to their launch spot to pull the boat out of the water when the accident happened.

Amanda Aime said she was facing Raihan, with her back toward her brother and Stuttle, who were riding near the engine. Aime said she was talking to her mom on her cell phone and never saw who had a hand at the helm.

She said she screamed and ducked when she saw the dock, just seconds before the boat went underneath it.

Raihan hit the dock and was thrown into the water, Amanda Aime said. She pulled him from the river and tried to perform CPR, but it was too late. Then she ran to a nearby home screaming for help, waking Emmanuel and Haven Chrysakis.

Emmanuel Chrysakis testified that he found Amanda Aime, who was pregnant at the time and said she had not been drinking that night, soaking wet and "frantic" on his back patio.

After reviewing case law and testimony, Circuit Judge Cynthia Newton decided to allow jurors to hear Chrysakis' testimony about what he overheard Amanda Aime say to authorities that night.

"Her brother was driving the boat," Chrysakis said. "She wanted to drive, but the other three wouldn't let her."

Stuttle, whose scalp was partially ripped from her head in the accident, said she was intoxicated and didn't remember who was driving the boat, but acknowledged she was sitting in the back row with Matthew Aime.

She said Raihan had been sitting with them also and that she didn't remember him moving to the front of the boat.

Conde asked Stuttle if she could have been driving, since she had said earlier she didn't remember anything after leaving the Sponge Docks.

"It's not getting put on me," Stuttle said. "I was not driving that boat."

Stuttle kept an icy stare on Matthew Aime as she left the courtroom after testifying.

Aime's trial continues today. He faces two felony charges, boating under the influence manslaughter and boating under the influence, and a misdemeanor charge of reckless operation of a vessel.

Rita Farlow can be reached at farlow@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4157.

Trial of Tarpon Springs man accused of boating fatality begins 04/28/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 28, 2009 9:32pm]
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