Acquittal motion denied in manslaughter trial Girl, 9, killed as she ran to bus

September 27, 1996|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

A Carroll County judge denied yesterday a motion to acquit a Westminster woman accused of driving under the influence of alcohol after the death of a 9-year-old girl in an accident last year.

Circuit Judge Luke K. Burns Jr. said that before rendering his decision Monday, he will review testimony, 60 pages of his notes and the 58 exhibits submitted during the four-day trial.

Lisa Ann McLain, 21, is accused of manslaughter by auto, homicide by vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and other related traffic charges stemming from the Dec. 22 accident on Coon Club Road outside Westminster.

Ashley E. Frazier was struck as she crossed the road to catch her bus to Spring Garden Elementary about 8: 30 a.m.

Prosecutor David P. Daggett, an assistant state's attorney, said in his closing argument yesterday that McLain was driving her Toyota Camry "at least 59 mph" before she began braking.

Daggett told the judge that had McLain, a senior at Frostburg State University, been driving at the posted speed limit of 35 mph, or even 40 mph, she would have been able to stop or swerve to avoid the collision.

He said McLain's blood-alcohol level, tested nearly three hours after the accident, proved she was under the influence.

"Speed plus alcohol adds up to gross negligence," he said, alluding to the key element for a manslaughter conviction.

Edward M. Ulsch, a Westminster attorney representing McLain, argued his client slowed her car when she saw the school bus and was driving about 35 mph when the girl ran into the road. He said McLain veered the car but did not have time to stop.

Ulsch denied that his client was under the influence of alcohol.

He said the evidence proved only that his client had a blood-alcohol level of 0.027 percent at 11: 07 a.m. Dec. 22, when she took the Breathalyzer test at the state police barracks in Westminster.

He said toxicologists' attempts to estimate McLain's blood-alcohol level nearly three hours earlier produced reasonable doubt and were not sufficient to convict her.

McLain testified yesterday that she had had four beers the night before the accident while visiting friends in Westminster. She said she stopped drinking about 1: 30 a.m. and spent the night because she did not want to drive home after drinking.

She said she awoke at 8 a.m. and did not believe she was under the influence when she left Westminster.

Pub Date: 9/27/96

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