Parking dispute will go to trial

Handicapped space at center of incident in Harford County

August 07, 1999|By Lisa Respers | Lisa Respers,SUN STAFF

A Harford County woman accused of blocking the car of a driver who parked illegally in a handicapped space was granted a jury trial yesterday by a District Court judge.

Linda Shepard-Gebhart was charged with disturbing the peace and false imprisonment after a May 13 incident at the Bagel Works on Churchville Road in which Shepard-Gebhart blocked Gay Joyce Smithson's car and summoned police.

Shepard-Gebhart faces a possible 60 days or more in jail and a $500 fine if found guilty. No date has been set for the jury trial granted by Judge Emory A. Plitt, who fined Smithson $100 yesterday for parking illegally.

Shepard-Gebhart has said she was attempting to make a citizen's arrest of Smithson, but authorities said Shepard-Gebhart's actions were equivalent to road rage.

"I had no intentions of committing a crime," Shepard-Gebhart said yesterday outside the courthouse. "I am passionate, frustrated and disgusted about how the disabled are treated."

Bob Reuter, who is in a wheelchair, came to the courthouse yesterday with other disabled people.

"This is a real issue, a real problem," Reuter said. "If you have a wheelchair, braces, crutches or artificial limbs, you have to have the extra space, and [handicapped] spaces are bigger."

Smithson, a bus driver for a school for disabled children in the county, expressed remorse to the judge for parking in the space.

Pub Date: 8/07/99

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