Driver acquitted of charges he ran another car off road

Arrest followed accident that injured two people

July 21, 1999|By Del Quentin Wilber | Del Quentin Wilber,SUN STAFF

A 52-year-old Sykesville man was acquitted by a Howard County District Court judge yesterday on charges that he ran another car off U.S. 29 in April and caused an accident that seriously injured two people.

Judge James N. Vaughan said the evidence in the case against Robert A. Pitcher of the 5900 block of Grace Lee Ave. did not support the allegation that Pitcher "intended to run his car at the [other car] in an effort to hit it."

Pitcher faced charges of second-degree assault, reckless driving, negligent driving and failing to obey traffic control device instructions stemming from the April 21 accident. He was acquitted of all charges.

Prosecutor Lisa Brown dropped a reckless endangerment charge before the trial began yesterday. She declined to comment after the verdict but said in court that the accident was caused by "road rage."

Police said Pitcher was driving his Volvo southbound on U.S. 29 just north of U.S. 40 about 7: 45 a.m. and did not let the driver of a Geo Tracker pass him.

The driver of the Geo then tried to pass Pitcher by using a small shoulder next to the fast lane, but Pitcher forced the Geo off the road, police said.

The Geo drove into the median and into traffic traveling north on U.S. 29, causing the accident that injured two people. Police said the Geo hit another car, seriously injuring the driver of the Geo and the driver of the other car, which was also hit by another vehicle.

Several witnesses testified yesterday but offered different accounts of what happened.

Pitcher testified that he was startled to suddenly see the Geo trying to pass him on the small shoulder and never tried to force it from the roadway. "It scared me," he said.

Defense attorney Clarke F. Ahlers argued that Pitcher had only seconds to make choices that could have led to other accidents.

"I'm not sure what the right answer is," Ahlers said. "If he moved suddenly right, I'm sure we'd be here on another set of charges."

The Geo's driver, Taysean Larae Sharese Thornton, 21, of Randallstown, faces several traffic charges stemming from the accident.

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