Carroll jury ponders case against pair Manslaughter charges stem from fatal accident

November 20, 1998|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

A Carroll County jury adjourned last night without reaching a verdict in the auto manslaughter trial of two of three men accused of racing on Route 140 just before a crash killed a Westminster woman.

Killed in the June 1 crash was Geraldine Lane "Geri" Wu, 42, a teacher at Mount Airy Middle School. Her daughter, Min-li, now 15, was injured in the collision when a maroon Nissan driven by Mark E. Eppig, 22, of Westminster went out of control and crossed the grass median, slamming into Mrs. Wu's Mitsubishi.

Eppig pleaded guilty to manslaughter and other charges Oct. 27. He also agreed to testify against the co-defendants, Frederick H. Hensen Jr., 21, of Westminster and Scott D. Broadfoot Sr., 25, of Parkville.

Testimony in the Circuit Court trial of Hensen and Broadfoot ended yesterday after four days. Judge Daniel W. Moylan permitted the jury to adjourn at 9: 15 p.m. Deliberations were to resume today.

State police investigators calculated that Eppig's car was traveling between 102 mph and 120 mph as it left the eastbound lanes near Finksburg, where the speed limit is 55 mph.

Other witnesses, including a Baltimore County police officer, testified that Eppig's Nissan and black Hondas driven by Broadfoot and Hensen were traveling faster than 85 mph along Route 140 from Westminster toward the crash site.

The key issue for deliberations was one of "gross negligence," an essential element of the principal charge of manslaughter.

The same "wanton and willful disregard for human life," which is needed to convict someone of manslaughter, is needed to find someone guilty of second-degree assault, said prosecutor David Daggett.

Broadfoot and Hensen were also charged with assaulting Min-li Wu, who was treated at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center for injuries suffered in the crash.

J. Barry Hughes, a Westminster attorney representing Hensen, said his client was speeding, but was never competing with Broadfoot and Eppig in a race.

He said Hensen stopped and tried to assist the victims.

Gary W. Weissner, a Howard County attorney representing Broadfoot, said his client was on his way home and was speeding, but never passed anyone.

Broadfoot also was charged with failing to remain at the scene of an accident, but Weissner said his client did turn around and stop. After seeing that he could do nothing to help, he drove home and called state police.

Pub Date: 11/20/98

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