Driver gets jail in fatal crash Teacher was killed, daughter hurt in June 1 incident

December 03, 1998|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

A Westminster man received a three-year jail term yesterday in Carroll County Circuit Court for his guilty plea in the June 1 crash that killed a Mount Airy Middle School teacher and injured her teen-age daughter.

Mark E. Eppig, 22, pleaded guilty in October to automobile manslaughter and second-degree assault. He testified against his two co-defendants at their trial last month, saying all three of them were racing their cars east on Route 140 near Finksburg when the fatal crash occurred.

It was Eppig's Nissan that crossed the grass median and crashed head-on into a 1997 Mitsubishi driven by Geraldine Lane "Geri" Wu, 42. She was killed instantly and her 15-year-old daughter, Min-li, was injured.

Under the plea bargain, Eppig was to serve no more than three years.

Carroll Circuit Judge Francis M. Arnold ordered that Eppig serve three years of a 10-year sentence, followed by five years' probation.

The sentence allows Eppig to be housed at the Carroll County Detention Center in Westminster, rather than in the state prison system, and to participate in the work-release program for his job at a local computer store.

Defense attorney David B. Irwin had asked for a six-month jail term followed by 18 months of home detention.

Assistant State's Attorney David P. Daggett asked for the full three years.

The judge said he would consider modifying the sentence in May.

Eppig, a 1994 Westminster High School graduate, wept as he apologized to the Wu family.

Laurence Wu, a professor of philosophy and religious studies at Western Maryland College, asked for justice when he addressed the court.

After nine hours of deliberation last month, a jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict on the counts of automobile manslaughter and second-degree assault against co-defendants Frederick H. Hensen Jr., 21, of Westminster and Scott D. Broadfoot Sr., 25, of Parkville.

The jurors convicted them of reckless driving; negligent driving; participating in a race or speed contest; exceeding the posted speed limit -- at 85 mph; failing to drive at a reasonable speed; and unsafe passing. Each is punishable by up to $500 in traffic fines, Daggett said.

Broadfoot also was convicted of failing to remain at the scene of an accident causing injury or death, a misdemeanor punishable by up to 12 months in jail.

After the jury deadlocked, Wu said that Min-li, a sophomore at Westminster High School, did not suffer permanent physical injuries but has trouble sleeping and her grades have dropped from A's to B's.

Wu said he was surprised at the verdict last month because "from my point of view the case seemed to be very clear and simple."

"I'm hopeful that during the retrial they will reach a guilty verdict," he said. "It takes time. I have no choice. It just must be done."

Daggett has said he would retry the manslaughter and assault charges.

Eppig will testify as needed, defense attorney Irwin said yesterday.

Pub Date: 12/03/98

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