Laurel man, 44, is convicted in fatal collision

Driver `grossly negligent' circuit judge rules

March 06, 2003|By Lisa Goldberg | Lisa Goldberg,SUN STAFF

A 44-year-old Laurel man who ran a red light and crashed his pickup into a black Mercedes turning from Route 108 onto Route 175, killing an Ellicott City computer consultant, was convicted yesterday of auto manslaughter.

Robert Ice of the 300 block of Brock Bridge Road acted in a "grossly negligent manner" when he sped through the light, apparently without slowing or braking, despite the signs and stopped cars that warned of a red light ahead, Howard Circuit Judge James B. Dudley ruled yesterday. Dudley tried the case instead of a jury.

Sentencing is scheduled for May 15.

The crash Sept. 10, 2001, killed 44-year-old Kenneth Weaver Parker, who had just left home after a doctor's appointment with his pregnant wife, Jennifer.

Parker, who had a green arrow, was turning left onto Route 175, and Ice was driving west on the road at the time of the collision, according to testimony. There was no evidence that Ice, who was making deliveries for the Bowie Midas shop, had been drinking, lawyers said.

His lawyer, Deputy Public Defender Louis P. Willemin, argued yesterday that his client may have been lost or distracted, not intent on creating a dangerous situation.

"What we have here is he just flat didn't see the light," Willemin said during his closing argument yesterday. "There's no reason to believe he saw the light and went through it on purpose."

But prosecutor Jim Dietrich noted that there were three warning signs that a light was ahead and other cars were braking for the light.

"If Mr. Ice missed [the signs], he shouldn't have been behind the wheel," he said.

Jennifer Parker, who was 18 weeks pregnant at the time, said yesterday that she and her husband had spent the morning at a doctor's appointment and had learned that day that the baby she was carrying was a boy.

Her husband, who she said was headed to his Laurel office from home, died five days after the crash. Kenneth Parker Jr. was born Feb. 19, 2002.

"I'm just taking it one day at a time," she said after the verdict. The guilty finding "is just one step closer in the grief journey."

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