20-Year-Old Man Pleads Guilty in Deadly Car Crash

A Vermont man has changed his plea to guilty in a Massachusetts car crash that left his best friend dead earlier this year.

Joseph Castano, 20, of Williston, pleaded guilty Thursday afternoon in Salem District Court. He is charged in the drunk driving crash that took the life of a fellow Endicott College student and childhood friend, 19-year-old Craig Sampson III, back in late April in Beverly.

Prosecutors say Castano was drinking and got into a fight with a student, and Castano and Sampson left campus in Castano's car. But Castano quickly lost control of his vehicle, according to prosecutors, and crashed into a utility pole.

"He was getting into the car to console his friend from the altercation," said the victim's father, Craig Sampson Jr.

Witnesses told investigators Castano was drinking heavily the night of the crash. His blood alcohol level was nearly three times the legal limit, police determined.

Castano's attorney says his client fully accepts responsibility for the fatal crash.

"Even when he's sleeping ... he's writhing," said attorney Randy Chapman. "He'll live with this forever."

Castano pleaded guilty to manslaughter and motor vehicle homicide while under the influence of liquor.

Castano was sentenced to three and a half years behind bars, but he could be eligible for parole in 21 months.

Sampson was the oldest of six children, and a sophomore at Endicott.

"Two families are devastated, one young life is lost and another forever changed, all because of alcohol," said Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett in a statement.

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