A glance between drivers leaving a Westminster shopping center set off a fatal three-car, 5.3-mile race along Route 140 in June, a Carroll County Circuit Court jury heard yesterday.
Mark E. Eppig, 22, of Westminster said he glanced at Scott D. Broadfoot Sr., 25, of Parkville and "the race was on."
Eppig testified during the third day of the auto manslaughter trial Broadfoot and Frederick H. Hensen Jr., 21, of Westminster, who is accused of joining the race that ended with a collision that killed a Westminster woman.
Eppig pleaded guilty to auto manslaughter Oct. 27. In return for a maximum sentence of three years in the Carroll County Detention Center, he agreed to testify against Broadfoot and Hensen. They also are accused of auto manslaughter and related charges.
Tfc. John Rose, a collision reconstructionist for the Maryland State Police, said Eppig's Nissan was traveling 120 mph just before the driver lost control, crossed the median and struck a green Mitsubishi.
The Mitsubishi's driver, Geraldine Lane "Geri" Wu, 42, was killed, and her daughter, Min-li, now 15, was injured.
Allowing for friction and other factors, Rose said Eppig's car was going at least 102 mph before it left the eastbound lanes of Route 140 at Sunset Lane.
Eppig testified he was going 80 mph to 100 mph, but said he did not recall anything just before or during the collision, except "I remember something going wrong, and I remember spinning."
He said he didn't remember the impact, but recalled waking up on the ground with Hensen holding his hand and telling him everything would be OK.
Eppig said Hensen later told him a yellow Honda CRX had pulled in front of him just before he went out of control, but Eppig said he didn't see it.
Lawyers for Hensen and Broadfoot tried to shake Eppig's memory, and challenged him about whether a race occurred -- except in his mind.
Gary W. Wiessner, Broadfoot's attorney, acknowledged that soon after his client pulled alongside Eppig, the two sped for a brief period, with Hensen closely following.
Wiessner said the so-called race ended when Eppig pulled over to turn around, as Broadfoot and Hensen continued.
But Eppig said he changed his mind and set out to catch Broadfoot and Hensen, who were traveling toward Finksburg.
J. Barry Hughes, Hensen's attorney, disputed Eppig's claim that he caught up quickly, if others were speeding at 75 mph, as Eppig testified.
Judge Daniel W. Moylan, a visiting judge from Washington County who is presiding at the trial, admonished Wiessner "to stay out of the witness' face," after the lawyer turned abruptly and leaned toward Eppig to challenge a response.
Moylan also testily sustained an objection by prosecutor David P. Daggett after Hughes asked Eppig sharply, "Why did you lie?"
Hughes and Wiessner pecked away at Eppig on the plea agreement, implying Eppig was obligated to testify favorably for the state or risk being sentenced to a state prison rather than the local jail.
After Daggett rested his case, Hughes and Wiessner made motions to acquit their clients, claiming the state did not prove that a race took place.
They reasoned that, barring a race, gross negligence necessary to obtain a conviction on the auto manslaughter count would be lacking.
Moylan denied their motions for acquittal and said he would rule on one speeding count against Broadfoot today, before the trial continues.
Pub Date: 11/18/98