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Defendant Weds Witness, Ends Case

January 29, 1999

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) _ A man charged with vehicular homicide married the only witness against him just before his trial, effectively ending the case.

A judge dismissed charges Jan. 22 against Michael Vega after his bride, Antoinette Marie Joseph, refused to testify.

Judge Constance Sweeney called the timing of the marriage ``a terrible violation of ordinary moral decency.″

Last June, Vega, 30, was riding with Joseph, 32, and arguing with her when he allegedly grabbed the wheel. The car swerved into the path of an oncoming vehicle and struck an oncoming car, killing the driver, John Askins, 64, prosecutors said.

Defense lawyer Colin Keefe said the case was dismissed because there was no evidence.

Sweeney said she couldn’t take any action against the couple because state law allows spouses to refuse to testify against each other. That didn’t restrain her from telling the newlyweds: ``I hope you are able to sleep at night.″

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