Woman pleads guilty in drunken-driving death of boyfriend

Sentence, imposed in Carroll Co., will not exceed 18 months

April 06, 1999|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

A Sykesville woman wept and apologized yesterday after pleading guilty to two charges in a drunken-driving accident in Woodbine in May that killed her boyfriend.

Donna F. Cianci, 36, pleaded guilty to homicide by motor vehicle while intoxicated and driving while intoxicated.

She is to receive a sentence in July of no more than 18 months imprisonment under terms of a plea bargain in Carroll County Circuit Court. The more serious charge -- homicide by motor vehicle -- carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

Several related charges were dropped as a part of the plea bargain.

Cianci lost control of her 1987 Ford Thunderbird while northbound on Woodbine Road about 2 a.m. May 5. The car skidded south of Buckhorn Road and crashed into a porch, two trees and cars parked in a driveway, said Brian L. DeLeonardo, assistant state's attorney.

Dead at the scene was John Bruce Yelton, 26, who was living and working on a farm in the 2100 block of W. Old Liberty Road, Taylorsville. He had also been doing construction work.

Cianci of the 4800 block of Cherry Tree Lane was living at the Taylorsville address at the time of the accident. She was flown to Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore in critical condition and had a 0.10 blood-alcohol reading and marijuana in her system, DeLeonardo said.

Although defendants usually don't address the court until sentencing, Cianci insisted on speaking to Yelton's family and friends in the courtroom. In a shaky tone, she began, "To apologize to you for what happened to John," and soon started sobbing.

Cianci, whose mother told her of Yelton's death while she was in the hospital, said, "I'm really sorry about John. I love him too."

Becoming more emotional, she continued, "I love him, I do. I know you don't believe me, but I do love him. I miss him. Honestly, I wish to God I wish I would have died -- I wish I would have died in that accident, in that hospital."

Assistant public defender Brian Green had witnesses prepared for sentencing yesterday, but the prosecutor asked for a presentence investigation of Cianci's psychological history.

Judge Francis M. Arnold agreed.

Green said he would ask for a home-detention program. DeLeonardo said he planned to ask that Cianci serve 18 months with additional time suspended.

"We feel that she should get some time," said Susan Scheufele, mother of Yelton, her youngest son. "I don't think she's really sorry."

Of the plea agreement, she said, "We weren't real happy about it at first, but [DeLeonardo] said if she got time at a big-time prison, she could actually get out sooner.

"I don't feel like I want vengeance as much as I want her out of the way so she won't hurt anybody else," Scheufele said.

Pub Date: 4/06/99

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