STOUGHTON - In the eight days between filming a fatal crash on Plain Street and speaking with police detectives, Matthew Peter of Mansfield seesawed between stubbornly defending his innocence and feeling nauseating guilt, his cellphone records showed.
Peter, 27, was charged with two counts of motor vehicle homicide after prosecutors say he initiated a race that led to the deaths of engaged couple Angie Goodrich and Michael Luddington in a violent crash in May.
His cellphone, seized by Stoughton police, serves as a chilling timeline of the events before, during and after the crash - including video of Luddington's pickup truck striking a tree.
One day after he sped away from the fatal crash, Peter, sent an audio message to his girlfriend pinning blame on the dead couple, calling them "f---king jackasses."
"I'm going to revive them just so I can shove them into that f---ing pole again," he said, according to court documents.
But minutes later, Peter said he felt ill, and texted his girlfriend: "Im always gonna know i was the reason they died."
Later that night, he advised his girlfriend to "tell no one what happened."
Peter was arraigned Thursday, Jan. 3, in Stoughton District Court on motor vehicle homicide charges - nearly eight months after the fatal crash. He was also charged with a rash of negligent operation charges, including racing a motor vehicle, speeding, marked lanes violation, mobile phone use while driving and following too closely.
His father, Lawrence Peter of Mansfield, was also charged with impeding a police investigation after his son sent him a video of the fatal crash 30 minutes after it occurred.
Both men were released without bail on conditions they stay away from the victims' families.
Stoughton police Lt. John Bonney, the department spokesman, credited their detectives with "tireless" investigative work in bringing charges against Peter. In the days following the crash, the only leads that detectives had to go on were witness reports of a silver vehicle driving away from the scene and a grainy surveillance photo from nearby Andy's Market of a speeding Subaru Forester.
The crash occurred just after 5 p.m. on May 8, 2018, near the intersection of Plain Street and Swanson Terrace, which sits on a blind, hilly curve.
Eight days later (on May 16), police released the surveillance photo of the Subaru on social media, seeking the public's help in identifying it.
It worked. That same day, detectives received a tip that Matthew Peter had been operating the vehicle registered to his father.
Detectives Matt Farwell and John Hartford responded to the Peter home on Sandy Hill Road in Mansfield that afternoon.
When they spoke with Matthew Peter, Farwell wrote in his report, he was "visibly shaking and had extreme dry mouth."
Lawrence Peter then told police that they had a video of the crash, and he believed that his son played no role in the accident.
Farwell asked why they hadn't contacted police about the accident, and Lawrence Peter said he was waiting to speak with an attorney.
Warrants were then issued for both the cellphone (a black iPhone 7) and the Subaru Forester (which was in the garage).
The phone proved a crucial tool for investigators. It not only revealed video of the crash itself, but also included several videos from well before the crash.
The videos, Farwell said in his report, show Peter become "increasingly erratic" as he drove north on Bay Road that day after filling up his gas tank at the Five Corners intersection in Easton.
At one point, Peter yells at a car in front of him, screaming: "Nice job, asshole, you just ruined all the fun of f---king Bay Road."
Before reaching Plain Street, Peter screams to a car: "You take the right turn after the f---king graveyard I'm f---king passing you, piece of s--t."
He also sings a song to himself at one point, saying: "Oh my goodness, oh my damn, oh my goodness, this s---t's about to get rammed."
Luddington's black GMC pickup truck first comes into view on Bay Road, Farwell wrote, and appeared to being operated "in a completely safe and normal fashion."
Both Luddington's GMC and Peter's Subaru turn right onto Plain Street, and both begin to accelerate, Farwell said.
Luddington's pickup truck then accelerates away from Matthew, to which Matthew responds: "Oh, get back here."
They begin to race, Farwell writes, and Peter at one point crosses the double yellow lines.
"In the video, you can hear that both vehicles are accelerating at a very rapid pace," Farwell said.
In the area of the crash, both vehicles are traveling upwards of 60 miles per hour, Farwell writes.
Matthew's camera doesn't capture Luddington's truck driving off the road and striking a telephone pole, but does show the truck smash into a tree afterwards - sending a "massive cloud of debris" into the air that includes one of the truck axles, Farwell writes.
The video abruptly stops at that time.
The messages afterwards, however, do not. Moments after the crash, Peter sends an audio message to his girlfriend, saying he "literally just witnessed this GM just turn into f---king dust in a power pole right on front of my f---king face."
About a half hour later, he sends the crash video to his father.
The next day, Peter continues to text about the crash with his girlfriend, and pinballs between innocence and guilt.
In one audio message about 7:40 a.m., Matthew says: "Investigating or not, my car made no physical contact and I wasn't anywhere near him when he slipped off the road. He did that all himself. Investigate all they want, they can't tough [sic] sh-t on me. It was 100 percent self-inflicted."
His tone in the message was "angry and callous," Farwell wrote.
But moments later, a text indicates he's feeling sick, and he says he knows he was the reason they died.
His girlfriend responds that the other car started it.
"You weren't there," Peter texts. "If you saw how it happened you'd see how its impossible not to see that."
In reviewing the video and messages, Farwell writes in his report, he believes "it is clear he knew his conduct that day contributed to the deaths of Michael Luddington and Angela Goodrich. While it appears they did not make contact at any time, it is clear from the video that he was engaged in a race with the GMC being operated by Michael Luddington. Matthew's operation was well in violation of the posted speed limit, operating his vehicle over the double yellow line combined with his statements leads me to believe no other conclusion can be made. It's also clear that Matthew concealed the vehicle in the garage for several days after the crash and again when he returned home on May 16, 2018, the day the photo was released to the public."
Peter's license was suspended on May 18. A review of his driving record by The Enterprise indicates that Matthew Peter has an extensive history of crashes and speeding violations over the last decade. Between December 2008, when he was 17 years old, and August 2017, he has six "surchargeable accidents" on his record, meaning he was determined to be at fault. Three of those crashes include property damage liability. His driving record also lists four speeding offenses and a passing violation.
He and his father will return to court for pretrial hearings on April 5.
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