Crime Watch

CRIME WATCH

Baltimore & Region

November 02, 2005

Towson man guilty in hit-and-run death

A 29-year-old Towson man pleaded guilty yesterday to automobile manslaughter in a hit-and-run crash that killed a construction worker this year on the Baltimore Beltway, a Baltimore County prosecutor said.

Jeffrey A. Ziegler admitted during a hearing in Baltimore County Circuit Court to being the driver of a 1982 BMW that struck and killed William M. Ruffin about 5:30 a.m. Jan. 29 on the inner loop of the Beltway at York Road, according to Allan J. Webster, an assistant state's attorney. The car crashed through a barrier and hit Ruffin, 42, of Baltimore, who was pronounced dead at the scene. Witnesses said the driver pulled over after striking the worker, got out of the car and then got back in and drove off, exiting the highway at Dulaney Valley Road, authorities have said.

The car was later found at Greenspring Station, an office complex on Falls Road. The car was damaged, and blood on the vehicle was linked to Ruffin, Webster said yesterday. Ziegler, of the 8400 block of Loch Raven Blvd., was indicted by a county grand jury in May on charges that included automobile manslaughter, vehicular homicide by motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, failing to remain at the scene of an accident and other traffic charges. In exchange for a guilty plea to auto manslaughter - the most serious charge, a felony with a maximum punishment of 10 years in prison - prosecutors dropped other charges, Webster said.

He said prosecutors intend to ask for a sentence beyond the three months to four years in sentencing guidelines for the case. Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 24.

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