According to news reports, a Sykesville woman will be serving just 30 days in jail following a fatal car crash that killed a Westminster woman back in 2009. The defendant, 21-year-old Anastacia Hardester was found guilty of negligent driving by a Carroll County Circuit Court judge, but apparently avoided stiffer penalties when the court could not find sufficient evidence for the more serious vehicular homicide charges.
As Baltimore automobile and motorcycle accident lawyers serving Maryland and Washington, D.C., we have seen this type of scenario play out time after time in Maryland injury accidents. Each year across this country hundreds and thousands of people are killed by drunk drivers leaving families without mothers, fathers and siblings. According to news reports, this particular accident may have involved drug DUI, however the court was only able to convict the woman of negligent driving, failure to drive on the right half of the road and driving while uninsured.
Based on police reports, Hardester’s vehicle allegedly crossed the centerline along a stretch of Md. 27 in Westminster, colliding with a second vehicle driven by 24-year-old Valerie Claire. According to court records, the car crash took place around 2pm in the afternoon. Prosecutors stated that the defendant told officers at the Westminster police barrack nearly one month following the accident that her prescribed daily dosage of methadone usually made her drowsy around 2 or 3pm.
The judge in the case said that there was insufficient evidence to cause him to believe that the defendant was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of vehicular homicide or driving while impaired by drugs. Last March, according to news reports, the court had listened to testimony regarding Hardester’s use of prescribed methadone and whether it affected her ability to drive or control her vehicle properly.
Court records indicate that police believed the woman’s vehicle was traveling upward of 73mph in a 50mph zone just prior to the fatal head-on collision. However an expert witness and former MSP sergeant contended that the defendant’s vehicle was going between 49mph and 52mph at the time of the wreck. The judge in the case said that conflicting expert opinions had also made it difficult to find the woman guilty of the more severe charges.
According to reports, the woman’s defense attorney argued that she had never told police that she was drowsy the day of the car crash and that she was not found to have pinpoint pupils, slurred speech or any other indicators of methadone use when examined following that fatal traffic accident.
As a result of the verdict, Hardester will serve two years of probation, pay fines totaling $1,500, complete 150 hours of volunteer service, as well as attend an AA or Narcotics Anonymous meeting every week.
Sykesville woman to serve 30 days for fatal crash, May 18, 2011