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 last Nov. 13 and collided with a truck in which she was riding, driven by Steven M. Brady, 17, her boyfriend.
Evidence at the non-jury trial yesterday indicated that Dobihal, of the 7000 block of Oliverwood Road, had a 0.16 percent blood-alcohol reading three hours after the accident. A 0.10 blood-alcohol reading is considered intoxicated in Maryland.
He was not hurt in the crash.
Dobihal did not testify in 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 is 10 years for manslaughter and one year for drunken driving.
In pronouncing the verdict, the judge said there was evidence of gross negligence.
"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."
Defense attorney Leonard Shapiro argued that his client consumed a large amount of alcohol just before the accident and the alcohol had not had time to become absorbed into his body -- meaning his blood-alcohol level at the time of the crash was actually below 0.10 percent.
The accident happened about 8:30 p.m., and police took a preliminary blood-alcohol test about 10:15 p.m. That reading was 0.10, while another reading an hour later was higher, a 0.16 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.