Laurel man gets 18-month term in crash that killed 2

Dillworth, 19, convicted of negligent manslaughter

`Very poor judgment'

Two friends died in 2003 when speeding car hit tree


February 01, 2005|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

A Laurel man was sentenced yesterday to 18 months in prison for causing the deaths of two friends who were killed when his speeding car crashed into a tree.

Vincent M. Dillworth Jr., 19, appeared somber as Anne Arundel County Circuit Judge Michael E. Loney admonished him, saying that driving on a dark, winding Brock Bridge Road at more than twice the speed limit was "adolescent and it demonstrated very poor judgment."

The judge sentenced Dillworth, a mechanic, to concurrent six-year terms for each of his two negligent-manslaughter convictions, suspending all but 18 months, the maximum allowed under terms of Dillworth's plea in December.

After 18 months, he will be subject to five years of supervised probation. During that time, he must carry photographs of his victims, perform 200 hours of community service - including time at a hospital or trauma center - and pay a $1,000 fine. He also must participate in victim-impact programs run by Mothers Against Drunk Driving and undergo drug and alcohol treatment if that is recommended by his probation officer.

His lawyer, Jack B. Rubin, had sought a jail stay of a year. He said Dillworth, who spent several weeks in the hospital and has no recollection of the crash, is remorseful.

Killed in the Sept. 30, 2003, crash near the Prince George's County line were Corey Gibson, 23, and Michael Stansbury Jr., 17, whose families said their lives have been shattered.

Dillworth said in court that he thinks about his friends daily and would have apologized to the families sooner but was told not to contact them. "I don't know what to say. I am lost," he said.

Members of both victims' families and Assistant State's Attorney Shelly S. Glenn, said they have heard that even after the fatal crash, Dillworth continued to speed down residential streets.

Betty Gibson, Corey Gibson's mother, said residents of their neighborhood in Laurel, in Prince George's County, had asked Dillworth to slow down for years before the fatal crash and again after. Reading from a neighbor's letter, she said, "How many other children does he have to kill before he gets it?"

"Justice is never going to be served, really," Gibson said after the court hearing. She said her son, who was working and studying how to install and repair ventilation systems, was hoping to become engaged that Christmas.

Corey Gibson's sister, Martita Gibson, told the judge that she worries about Corey's twin brother and fears she will pick up the phone to hear "that Kyle has ended his life because he cannot bear the pain."

Michael Stansbury was about to start his senior year at Laurel High School when he was killed.

His mother, Gina Pearson, told the judge that she weeps daily, is being treated for depression and that her health has declined. She quit her job, she said.

Clayton Pearson recalled the many hours he and his stepson, Michael, used to spend working on projects in the family's garage. "Now I don't even want to go in the garage, much less work on a project," he said.

About 9:45 p.m. on the night of the crash, Dillworth was driving his 1991 Honda Civic north on Brock Bridge Road at a speed of at least 74 mph when the modified car slammed into a tree near River Bridge Way, crushing the passenger side, Glenn said.

Dillworth's attorney disputed that speed. The speed limit in the area where the crash occurred is 35 mph. Police found marijuana in Dillworth's pocket, but Glenn said there was no proof that he was driving under the drug's influence.

After sentencing, Glenn said the car had been modified in ways that made it go faster but that made it less safe at high speeds. The springs were lowered, it had been fitted with performance tires, and a larger intake and exhaust had been added.

The front passenger seat was improperly installed, and it was thrown from the vehicle in the crash, she said. The car also had a TV monitor and a PlayStation in the front of the passenger compartment, she said.

Facing nine charges, including traffic violations, Dillworth entered an Alford plea last year to the two most serious counts of negligent manslaughter. The plea means he acknowledged that prosecutors had information to convict him even though he didn't admit guilt. The maximum sentence for manslaughter is 10 years.

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