Man enters guilty plea in auto death of woman Judge reduces jail time in exchange for testimony

October 28, 1998|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

A Westminster man pleaded guilty yesterday to auto manslaughter and, in return for his promise to testify against two co-defendants, will serve no more than three years in jail.

Mark E. Eppig, 22, of Westminster was found guilty by Carroll Circuit Judge Francis M. Arnold. The judge set sentencing for Nov. 20.

In a statement of facts, prosecutor David P. Daggett said witnesses, including a Baltimore County police officer, would have testified that Eppig and two men were racing east on Route 140 near Finksburg when the fatal accident occurred June 1.

He said the officer was not able to keep up with Eppig's Nissan and two sports cars -- driven by Frederick H. Hensen Jr., 21, of Westminster and Scott D. Broadfoot Sr., 25, of Parkville -- along the divided highway, but came upon the crash scene seconds later.

Daggett said state police collision reconstruction experts estimated that Eppig was driving 100 mph to 120 mph when he lost control of his Nissan, crossed the grass median and crashed head-on into a 1997 Mitsubishi.

The Mitsubishi's driver, Geraldine Lane "Geri" Wu, 42, a Mount Airy Middle School teacher, was killed instantly, Daggett said.

Min-li Wu, 14, a passenger in her mother's car, was seriously injured. She was taken by state MedEvac helicopter to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, where she was treated and released the next day.

In binding himself to the plea agreement, Arnold may impose 10-year consecutive sentences for Eppig's guilty plea to auto manslaughter and second-degree assault of Min-li Wu, but must suspend all but three years of the term.

Eppig could request an exception to serve the sentence at the Carroll County Detention Center. Sentences longer than 18 months at the county jail must be approved by the Carroll County sheriff.

As he left the courtroom yesterday, the husband of Geraldine Wu, Laurence Wu, a professor of philosophy and religious studies at Western Maryland College, said he hoped the three men would be held equally responsible for his wife's death.

He declined to comment further until Eppig and the co-defendants are sentenced.

Hensen and Broadfoot are expected to be tried jointly Nov. 12, Daggett said. They lost bids Oct. 5 to have separate trials when Circuit Judge Daniel J. Moylan granted Daggett's motion to join the cases, calling it a "matter of common sense."

The witnesses, motorists, police and medical experts essentially are the same in both cases, Daggett said.

Pub Date: 10/28/98

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