Crownsville drunken driver cleared of homicide charges

September 01, 1992|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Staff Writer

A 19-year-old Crownsville man was convicted of driving while intoxicated and reckless driving late Friday, but cleared of more-serious charges stemming from a car accident last year that killed his best friend.

A county Circuit Court jury that debilitated over two days cleared Rodney L. Truman, of the 1100 block of Severn View Drive, of auto manslaughter and homicide by motor vehicle after a three-day trial last week before Judge Raymond G. Thieme Jr.

Truman faces a year in jail and a $500 fine after his conviction on the charges that come from an accident Aug. 26, 1991, on St. Stephens Church Road that killed Henry Christian Nutter, a passenger in his car.

According to police, Truman had just left a party where he had been drinking and was heading west on St. Stephens Church Road, just west of Chesterfield Road, when he tried to pass a car.

Truman's car crossed the double yellow line and went into the lane of oncoming traffic. He lost control of his Toyota Corolla, skidded off the right side of the road and hit a tree about 11:45 p.m., police said.

Police said Truman registered .12 on a Breathalyzer test. A reading of .10 is considered legally drunk in Maryland.

Members of Mr. Nutter's family said yesterday that Truman was the victim's best friend, that they knew it was an accident and that they would have preferred he not be prosecuted. During that trial, the victim's mother, Carmen Christian, testied on behalf of Truman.

"All these kids were in this together. And we feel like the point is you have one ruined life already, there's no point in ruining someone else's life," said Elaine Christian, the victim's grandmother. "He (Truman) was Chris' best friend, and there's been enough suffering already."

Jurors also heard conflicting testimony about what led to the accident.

Truman, a student at Potomac State College in Keyser, W.Va., said he drank three beers on the night of the accident. He said he couldn't remember much of what happened after the accident, but is sure that his car was hit from behind before he hit the tree.

Mr. Costello asked jurors not to focus on his client's actions, but on weaknesses in the state's case.

Judge Thieme set sentencing for Sept. 4.

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