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Judge refused to lower bail for Somersworth man indicted in fatal crash

DOVER — A Superior Court judge refused to reduce bail for a Somersworth man who has been jailed since a fatal accident in July in which a honeymooning bride was killed.

On Nov. 14, a grand jury indicted Matthew Tsopas, 44, previously of Blackwater Road, Somersworth, on charges of manslaughter, three counts of aggravated driving while intoxicated, one count of reckless conduct, three counts of simple assault, one count of attempted simple assault and four counts of conduct after an accident.

All of the charges are connected to a series of accidents, including the one that killed Leah Preiss, who was on her honeymoon in Rollinsford on July 20.

Following the crash, Tsopas was held in Strafford County Jail on $250,000 cash bail, which was reduced to $75,000 cash in August.

On Friday, Tsopas' attorney Harry Starbranch asked Judge Kenneth Brown to reduce bail to $25,000 cash or corporate surety. Starbranch argued the reduction was justified as Tsopas has no criminal record, has the support of his family in the area and is willing to adhere to all court orders to appear and seek treatment.

He added that at the time of the accident, Tsopas was taking medication for anxiety and clinical depression.

"These aren't things he took for recreation — this was something prescribed to him," Starbranch said, adding Tsopas is currently on different medications.

County Attorney Thomas Velardi asked Brown not to lower the bail. In fact, he was "begging" Brown to return bail to the original amount of $250,000.

Velardi argued it continues to worry him how Tsopas showed a lack of control by allegedly mixing prescription drugs with alcohol. "All this does is fan the flames of my concern," Velardi said.

Tsopas is scheduled to appear for an arraignment Tuesday at 9 a.m. in Superior Court.

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