Drunken-driving orphan sentenced for killing girl Victim's kin sorry woman isn't jailed

August 25, 1993|By Ed Brandt | Ed Brandt,Staff Writer

A Carney woman whose parents were killed by a drunken driver when she was 16 years old was given a suspended sentence and 18 months of home detention yesterday in Baltimore County Circuit Court for running over a 16-year-old girl last December.

A car driven by Phyllis G. Keith, 40, of the 2400 block of Woodcroft Road struck and killed Angela Chance as the girl crossed Merritt Boulevard near German Hill Road about 11 p.m. on the rainy night of Dec. 11.

Keith was convicted of homicide by motor vehicle while intoxicated on June 28.

Her blood-alcohol level was .23, according to testimony.

A driver with a blood-alcohol level of .10 is by law considered drunk. Maximum sentence for the crime is five years in prison.

Testimony at the trial indicated that Keith did not have her headlights on at the time of the accident, and that after the impact, which shattered her windshield, she made a U-turn and returned to the scene, apparently thinking that she had struck her own daughter.

Judge Alfred L. Brennan Sr., saying he "can't solve the hurt," sentenced Keith to three years in prison, then suspended all but 18 months. Those 18 months are to be served in monitored home detention at her expense.

She will be allowed to go to work at Blue Cross/Blue Shield, where she is a secretary.

Keith, an admitted alcoholic, also was placed on 36 months of supervised probation, was ordered to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings twice a week and was told she will have to serve six months of community service by speaking to designated groups on the evils of drinking and driving.

She also was fined $2,500, plus court costs.

Keith had no prior criminal record, but she did have six points on her driving record for speeding.

Her license has been revoked as a result of the accident. She can reapply for the license six months after revocation, but if issued it will carry a total alcohol restriction for life.

Keith told the court in a small, strained voice that she was "very sorry," and that she was trying "very hard to be a better person."

Ms. Chance, a junior at Patapsco High School, was on the way to a friend's house after leaving a Burger King restaurant on Merritt Boulevard where she had worked the 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. shift. It was her first job.

About 20 friends and members of her family attended the hearing, and many expressed disappointment that Keith will not serve time.

Warren Chance, Ms. Chance's father, said that the sentence sends the "wrong message to the public. It's just a slap. The loss of a child is a terrible nightmare."

Assistant State's Attorney Jason League argued in court that Keith was a mature person who should have understood that "you can't drink and drive," and that she should have to serve time in prison.

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