Mother convicted of abuse Witness: girl came out of car 'airborne' ANNE ARUNDEL

July 30, 1993|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Staff Writer

A Circuit Court jury yesterday convicted a 26-year-old Pasadena woman of child abuse for throwing her 7-year-old daughter from a car while driving at 45 mph last April.

The jury of six men and six women deliberated 5 1/2 hours before convicting Donna Marie Candella, of the 8200 block of Baltimore-Annapolis Blvd., of child abuse, reckless endangerment, battery and assault.

Judge Martin A. Wolff set sentencing for Sept. 15.

Mrs. Candella testified that her daughter, Mandy, jumped from the 1978 Chevette. She said she was going 25 mph in the 8800 block of Fort Smallwood Road at about 3:30 p.m. when Mandy jumped near the doorstep of the home of the child's grandmother and Mrs. Candella's mother, Florence Humphrey, where the girl preferred to spend her time.

Mrs. Candella, who was sharing a home with Mrs. Humphreys at the time, said she didn't stop because she saw that the girl was safely with her grandmother.

The accused, a counter clerk at a Pasadena pizza shop, said Mandy jumped because she didn't want to go to Pennsylvania Station in Baltimore to see off Mrs. Candella's boyfriend. She said after the child jumped, she didn't want to stop because she "didn't get along" with Mrs. Humphreys and wanted to avoid fighting with her.

Ashley Candella, 5, the defendant's other daughter, who was in the car at the time, was unhurt.

Jurors in the two-day trial were instead persuaded by the version of events described by Linda McMillion, who was heading north in her Plymouth Voyager behind Mrs. Candella and called police based on what she saw.

She testified that Mandy came "flying" out of the car after some type of argument between mother and daughter.

"This little girl came out of that car airborne, and went over head first and continued to tumble," said Ms. McMillion, a mother of three small children who choked back tears as she spoke.

Assistant State's Attorney Robert Bittman said Mrs. Candella faces up to 15 years in prison.

Defense attorney B. Craig Wald, of Glen Burnie, said he is convinced of Mrs. Candella's innocence. "I believe my client when she says, under oath, that she didn't push the child out of that car," he said after the verdict was announced.

But he acknowledged that the strongest factor working against her was what the state emphasized at trial: that she didn't stop when her 7-year-old bounced into the roadway. "Certainly, the most damaging thing was that she didn't remain at the scene," he said.

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