Retrial to begin in Carroll of two charged with auto manslaughter in teacher's death

April 16, 1999|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

A retrial will begin today in Carroll Circuit Court for two men charged with manslaughter and assault in the death of a Mount Airy Middle School teacher and the injury of her daughter in an accident on Route 140 in June.

It took all day to select a jury to hear the case against Frederick H. Hensen Jr., 21, of Westminster and Scott D. Broadfoot Sr., 25, of Parkville, who are being tried again on charges of manslaughter by automobile and second-degree assault. A third defendant pleaded guilty and became a prosecution witness in a previous trial.

In November, a Carroll County jury deadlocked on the main charges against Hensen and Broadfoot after a four-day trial but found them guilty of racing at more than 85 mph along Route 140 near Finksburg June 1.

Mother killed instantly

The crash killed Geraldine Lane "Geri" Wu, 42, of Westminster instantly. Her daughter, Min-li Wu, 15, was injured.

Yesterday morning, about 80 potential jurors were called to the Carroll County Circuit Courthouse in Westminster for questioning. Many indicated they would have difficulty being impartial in the trial, which is expected to last about eight days.

Jurors spoke individually at the bench with Judge Daniel W. Moylan, a retired Washington County judge who will preside; Assistant State's Attorney David P. Daggett; defense attorneys J. Barry Hughes and Gary W. Wiessner; and the defendants.

Third defendant

The third defendant, Mark E. Eppig, 22, of Westminster, pleaded guilty in October to automobile manslaughter and second-degree assault.

Eppig testified at the trial in November that he, Hensen and Broadfoot were racing their cars east on Route 140 when the fatal crash occurred.

His 1991 Nissan crossed the grass median and crashed head-on into the 1997 Mitsubishi driven by Wu.

Eppig said it started with a glance between him and Broadfoot as they left a Westminster shopping center and set off a 5.3-mile race along Route 140 that was joined by Broadfoot.

In December, Carroll Circuit Judge Francis M. Arnold ordered that Eppig serve three years of a 10-year sentence on his guilty plea. That allowed Eppig to be housed at the county Detention Center in Westminster rather than in the state prison system.

In the November trial, the jury deliberated about nine hours but was not able to reach a unanimous verdict on the charges of automobile manslaughter and second-degree assault against Hensen and Broadfoot.

The defense lawyers said in closing arguments in November that their clients were speeding but not racing.

Convicted on lesser charges

The jurors convicted Hensen and Broadfoot of lesser charges, including reckless driving, negligent driving, participating in a race or speed contest, exceeding the posted speed limit, failing to drive at a reasonable speed and unsafe passing.

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

Pub Date: 4/16/99

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