Essex man convicted of automobile manslaughter

March 31, 1992|By Glenn Small | Glenn Small,Staff Writer

After a one-day court trial, a Baltimore County Circuit Court judge has convicted a 19-year-old Essex man of drunken driving and automobile manslaughter in the death of a Chesapeake High School student, Kimberly Jo Spacek.

Kimberly, 15, was killed when a car driven by Michael Brian Dobihal crossed the double-yellow line on Turkey Point Road in Essex Nov. 13, 1991, and collided with a truck driven by Steven M. Brady, Kimberly's boyfriend.

Evidence at yesterday's trial indicated that Dobihal, of the 7000 block of Oliverwood Road, had a .16 blood-alcohol reading three hours after the accident. A .10 blood-alcohol reading is considered intoxicated in Maryland.

He was not hurt in the crash.

Dobihal did not testify for his defense, and remains free on $10,000 bail until his sentencing hearing, which Judge Thomas J. Bollinger scheduled for June 3.

The judge also ordered a presentence report.

The maximum penalty for automobile manslaughter is 10 years in prison. Dobihal also faces a one-year maximum sentence for the drunken-driving conviction.

In pronouncing the verdict, the judge said there was evidence of gross negligence on the part of Dobihal the night of the fatal crash.

"He's drinking," the judge said. "He's a young man, he's not supposed to be drinking, but he's drinking. . . . He's flying up that road, having been drinking and he's approaching a curve. . . He didn't slow down and he lost control."

Much of yesterday's testimony was undisputed.

It was clearly Dobihal behind the wheel of his 1978 Monte Carlo that crossed the center lane and smashed into the pickup truck driven by Steven, 17.

Defense attorney Leonard Shapiro argued that his client consumed a large amount of alcohol just before the accident and that alcohol had not yet absorbed into his body at the

time of the crash -- meaning his blood-alcohol level at the time of the crash was actually below .10.

The accident happened about 8:30 p.m., and police took a preliminary blood-alcohol test about 10:15 p.m. That reading was .10, while another reading an hour later was higher, a .16 level.

But John Cox, the prosecutor in the case, countered that the first blood-alcohol test was a preliminary field test, which is not as accurate as the later test.

According to other testimony, Dobihal's blood-alcohol at the time of the crash may have been as high as .20, which meant he had to have consumed at least 12 beers that night.

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