A 24-year-old Baltimore man who avoided a charge of auto manslaughter by paying a $45 traffic citation was sentenced Friday to four yearsin jail by a Circuit Court judge for the less serious charge of autotheft.
Judge Cornelius F. Sybert Jr. dismissed the auto manslaughter charge against Garrick Wesley in August, ruling that it would be double jeopardy to try Wesley on the manslaughter charge after he hadpaid a fine for a lesser, related charge of reckless driving.
Wesley was driving a stolen 1987 Chevrolet Spectrum in a June 13,1990, accident that killed 23-year-old Julie Brown, who was riding in the car's passenger seat.
The accident occurred on U.S. 40 as Wesley tried to elude police in a high-speed chase, police said.
While changing lanes, Wesley struck a car, seriously injuring the driver. He continued west on U.S. 40 and collided with the back of a truck while trying to pass it on the right, county police said.
Alan Cohen, Wesley's attorney, asked for a suspended sentence, saying his client had suffered enough. Wesley lost a leg and suffered a detached retina in the accident.
"I'm sure you'll be paying mentally and physically for the rest of your life," Sybert told Wesley, before the sentencing. "However, it's my interpretation that you brought this on yourself."
Wesley pleaded guilty to auto theft. The state's attorneys office is appealing the dismissal of the auto manslaughter charge, for which Wesley could have received a sentence of 10 years.
The Maryland Court of Special Appeals addressed the issue of double jeopardy in traffic cases in May, when it freed a man twice convicted of drunken driving because he had paid a $35 traffic citation.
"This isunlike the other case, where there was an absolute removal of any potential for penalty, so justice in the end was really done," said assistant state's attorney Joseph Murtha.