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BOSTON -- The fiancee of the one-woman wrecking machine who led police on Tuesday's death-defying Southeast Expressway chase now claims she and her accused kidnapper are victims of police brutality.
"She's innocent,'' Sonya Centofanti-Howes, 41, said yesterday of Sandra Howes, 42, her partner of eight years.
Howes is being held without bail pending a dangerousness hearing Monday in the Dorchester Division of Boston Municipal Court.
Asked how she came to have marks on her skin and a bandage on her foot, Centofanti-Howes, wearing a Hershey's T-shirt, snapped, "From the cops smashing the windows (of the car) and brutalizing (Howes). They pistol-whipped her.''
State police spokesman David Procopio said Centofanti-Howes' allegation of brutality `"is too absurd to even warrant a response.
"We are grateful that many people recognized the dangers that police face every day in protecting the public,'' he said. "The fact that the woman whom they rescued from a serious assault is not one of those people does not change the fact that state and Boston police responded with professionalism, restraint and no regard for their own safety.''
The 5-foot, 3-inch, 300-pound Howes of Fall River pleaded not guilty yesterday to 13 charges including kidnapping and beating her girlfriend, failure to stop for police, and threatening state troopers David Nims, Jon MacKinnon and Jay Morris with her 2000 Honda Civic.
The charges even spill over to Boston Medical Center where Howes, while being treated for minor injuries, continued her rampage, spitting on hospital staff and assailing them with racial slurs, according to police reports. She allegedly told one trooper, as she laughed at him, that she'd had sex with his mother.
Howes had six restraining orders taken out against her by four different Fall River women between 1995 and 2003, records show. Her nine-page history of violence dates back 25 years, and includes convictions as recently as last week for assault, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and robbery.
Tuesday's high-speed highway drama began in Charlestown, where a witness told Boston police Howes hit Centofanti-Howes with the car during a fight and saw her then "physically pick up (Centofanti-Howes) and force her back into the vehicle,'' prosecutor Christian Young said.
Howes, Young said, was "clearly out of control'' as she careened down I-93 south at 80 to 90 mph, a cigarette dangling from her lips, until she was trapped by traffic and subdued at gunpoint.
Public defender Holly Clarke conceded the couple "were having an argument,'' but suggested police overreacted to the lovers' spat.
"This isn't the Lindbergh baby,'' Clarke said.