Woman accused in death of girl, 9, expected to testify today Child was struck by car in December

September 26, 1996|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

A Westminster woman accused of driving under the influence of alcohol in the death of a 9-year-old schoolgirl last year is expected to testify today in Carroll County Circuit Court.

Lisa Ann McLain, 21, is charged with manslaughter by auto, homicide by motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and related traffic charges stemming from the Dec. 22 accident that killed Ashley E. Frazier, a fourth-grader.

The trial, entering its fourth day, has focused on the defendant's blood-alcohol level and the speed at which she was traveling along Coon Club Road that morning.

Witnesses, including Brenda Frazier, the child's mother, testified that Ashley was trying to catch her school bus to Spring Garden Elementary School when she was struck about 8: 30 a.m. at the end of the family's driveway in the 2500 block of Coon Club Road outside Westminster.

Dr. Barry S. Levine, the state's chief toxicologist, estimated that McLain's blood-alcohol level at the time of the accident was 0.08 percent. The state's standard for driving under the influence is 0.07 percent.

A state police expert in collision reconstruction said McLain's 1990 Toyota Camry was traveling at least 59 mph when it struck the girl.

Defense witnesses reached dif- ferent conclusions yesterday.

Charles D. "Chuck" Pembleton, an accident reconstruction expert, said skid marks on the road made before the impact were not produced by McLain's car.

He said it was impossible to steer a car to the left and cross the center line as McLain did if the car's four wheels were locked by braking. Pembleton said a braking vehicle skids in a straight line, which led him to that conclusion.

He said McLain swerved left, but too late to avoid striking the child.

He said the skid marks showed that her car was traveling 35 or 36 mph.

The posted speed limit on Coon Club Road is 35 mph.

Earlier yesterday, Dr. Yale H. Caplan, a former chief state toxicologist, said McLain's blood-alcohol level was below the 0.07 percent state standard.

Caplan said Levine's calculations were correct on average for two-thirds of the population but failed to consider whether McLain was a chronic drinker, a regular drinker or a naive social drinker.

Asked by Edward Ulsch, the defendant's lawyer, to assume that McLain was a naive social drinker and had had four beers the night before the accident, Caplan concluded that her blood-alcohol level was 0.049 percent to 0.069 percent at the time of the accident.

Pub Date: 9/26/96

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