Arundel drunken-driving accident that killed his female passenger gets man 3-year sentence

May 22, 1999|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

A 27-year-old Pasadena man was sentenced yesterday to three years in prison for a drunken-driving wreck that killed the passenger of the car, a woman he initially told police was the errant driver.

Joseph H. Schneider of the 7800 block of Catherine Ave. apologized for his actions in an Anne Arundel County courtroom, but the victim's relatives later said they did not believe he was sincere and thought his sentence was light.

Circuit Judge Eugene M. Lerner suspended two years of the five-year maximum sentence for negligent homicide while intoxicated, then added four years' probation, alcohol counseling and a $4,085 judgment payable to the victim's mother.

It was the sentence sought by Assistant State's Attorney Eileen Reilly.

Schneider's attorney, assistant public defender Patrick Kent, declined to comment.

Michelle L. Moore, 25, of Parkville died in the accident early on Easter morning 1998 on Marley Neck Road in Pasadena. Schneider, who called police, claimed that Moore was driving -- it was her car and he didn't have a driver's license -- then changed his story to say Moore grabbed control of the steering wheel from him, sending the car off the road, up an embankment and into a tree.

Schneider's blood alcohol content after the crash was .11, just over the .10 legal limit for drunk driving, Reilly said.

"He got off easy," said Elizabeth K. Smith, Moore's mother, outside the courtroom.

Smith said that a month before the accident she had a frightening premonition, a nightmare that her daughter was in a car crash.

Moore lived with her grandmother, Rosalind Pessagno, who said she cannot bring herself to clear her home of Moore's belongings and replays in her mind the arrival of two police officers at her doorstep on Easter morning.

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