College student pleads guilty in fatal car crash

Victim's family upset by May sentencing date

February 10, 2002|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

A Glen Burnie college student tearfully pleaded guilty Friday to automobile manslaughter in a drunken-driving accident last June that led to the death of a Northeast High School student.

Under terms of the plea agreement by Jamie Newman, 21, a Salisbury University junior, Anne Arundel County prosecutors will seek a prison term of up to 4 years, plus probation and community service, though Newman may ask Circuit Judge Joseph P. Manck for less. The maximum sentence for automobile manslaughter is 10 years.

The May 29 sentencing date was the latest event related to the accident to upset the family of 15-year-old Christina Fisher of Pasadena, who died in the head-on crash June 30. The delayed sentencing also disappointed Fisher's boyfriend, Seth Engle, 21, of Stevensville, who was injured in the crash, and his family. Sentencing could have been set earlier, but it allows Newman to complete the college semester, which Fisher's family said is an affront.

Newman's lawyer, Peter S. O'Neill, said the plea was expedited because of the agreement reached with the prosecutor.

Newman had left her boyfriend's home when she turned her car north onto southbound lanes of Fort Smallwood Road, said Assistant State's Attorney Shelley A. Stickell. It struck the southbound car that was driven by Engle; Fisher was a passenger. Newman's blood-alcohol level was 0.17 percent, well over the presumption of impairment.

"She is going through her everyday living while I'm going through this anguish," said Carol Wilson, Fisher's mother.

Stickell said she sought an earlier sentencing date, but Manck agreed with O'Neill.

Newman told the judge Friday that she has been under psychiatric care since the accident.

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