Driving records a factor in terms

2 guilty in car death to serve longer than driver who hit woman

May 18, 1999|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

A visiting judge echoed the fears of those who drive Carroll's County's main artery every day as he sentenced two men convicted of causing the death of a Mount Airy Middle School teacher while drag-racing down Route 140 in June.

Although their vehicles did not strike her car, Judge Daniel W. Moylan noted the driving records of Frederick H. Hensen Jr., 22, of Westminster, and Scott D. Broadfoot Sr., 25, of Parkville.

Hensen, who has 14 traffic offenses, including one each for running a red light and spinning wheels and 12 for speeding -- three times for more than 30 miles over the limit -- received a six-year sentence to be served at the state Division of Correction. Hensen was immediately taken into custody.

Broadfoot was sentenced to four years, to be served at the Carroll County Detention Center, with work-release recommended. He was given 72 hours to report to the jail. Broadfoot has seven speeding convictions on his traffic record, according to yesterday's hearing.

Geraldine Lane "Geri" Wu died and her 15-year-old daughter, Min-li Wu, was injured as they were returning from completing the daughter's homework assignment about 9: 30 p.m. June 1.

Mark E. Eppig, 22, the man whose car crossed the grassy median and struck Mrs. Wu's car, pleaded guilty in October to manslaughter by automobile and second-degree assault and received a three-year jail term at the Carroll County Detention Center on work-release.

Hensen and Broadfoot were convicted of manslaughter by automobile and second-degree assault last month by a Carroll County jury, after a previous jury deadlocked on those counts but found the two guilty of traffic offenses.

After Assistant State's Attorney David P. Daggett listed their offenses, defense attorneys J. Barry Hughes and Gary W. Wiessner objected that their clients' sentences should not be enhanced by nonjailable offenses.

Hughes also said he would appeal Hensen's receiving prison time and a longer sentence than the man whose car stuck Mrs. Wu's -- asking the state appeals courts to decide this issue for the first time.

The two men's driving records influenced him in reaching his sentences, said Moylan, a visiting judge retired from Washington County. He recalled the trial testimony of witnesses who said they were outraged, incensed, screamed out loud, or were scared to death as three cars in tandem blew past them on a 5.4-mile race down Route 140 from Westminster to Finksburg -- where the fatal crash occurred.

"The road where this took place, Route 140, is a very major main artery, I could say, to the rest of the world," Moylan said, saying 39,000 vehicles a day pass by Finksburg and 50,000-plus near Westminster.

Daggett said all three drivers who were racing -- Eppig, Broadfoot and Hensen -- are equally responsible for Mrs. Wu's death, but Broadfoot and Hensen deserved harsher sentences because of their driving records. He asked that Hensen serve a nine-year sentence and Broadfoot an eight-year sentence.

"People are incensed and people are enraged because their lives are endangered when this kind of thing happens," Moylan said in a lengthy explanation of the sentencing, which was delayed by Hensen's treatment at a local emergency room for internal bleeding.

Hensen arrived at the courthouse just before 4 p.m., hoarse from having had a tube down his throat, and dissolved into sobs as he expressed his remorse to the victim's husband, Laurence Wu, a professor at Western Maryland College. Broadfoot also cried as he apologized to the Wu family.

Wu read a statement from the witness stand telling of his grief for his wife of 18 years and the effect of the loss upon their children, especially Min-li.

Yesterday morning, Moylan delayed a decision on a request to reduce Eppig's jail time. A witness for the prosecution, Eppig has been incarcerated with work-release privileges since Dec. 2.

Eppig's defense attorney, David B. Irwin, said his client was seeking redemption, having taken full responsibility for his role in the race that led to his losing control of his 1991 Nissan, which crossed the median on Route 140 and crashed head-on into Mrs. Wu's 1997 Mitsubishi.

Pub Date: 5/18/99

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