- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 4, 2004

ELLICOTT CITY, Md. (AP) — An Ellicott City woman who was legally drunk when she rear-ended a motorcycle last year, killing its rider, faces no more than a year in prison after paying a $275 ticket before she could be charged with vehicular homicide.

In essence, Susan Elizabeth Williams, 35, pleaded guilty to a lesser charge before a more serious one could be leveled.

“She kind of found a crack in the system,” State’s Attorney Timothy J. McCrone said.

As a result, police issued a memo advising officers not to issue tickets for negligent driving in drunken-driving cases involving injuries until the case is reviewed.

Miss Williams had faced several charges, including driving while intoxicated and vehicular homicide, in the death of Dennis Jerry Sullivan, 42, a mechanic and father of two.

Miss Williams had just left work at a Burger King on Baltimore National Pike when she crashed into Mr. Sullivan. Officers tested her on the scene, decided she was intoxicated and arrested her, police spokesman Richard Malcolm said.

But because Mr. Sullivan did not appear critically injured — although he was taken to a hospital complaining of back injuries — the investigating officer did not call the traffic investigation division, which would have been the routine in accidents involving serious injuries, Mr. Malcolm said.

The officer charged Miss Williams with several citations related to the accident, including negligent driving.

Mr. Sullivan died of internal injuries days later, and prosecutors filed papers to drop the lesser counts.

In the meantime, Miss Williams had paid the $275 fine for negligent driving.

A Circuit Court judge agreed and dropped the vehicular homicide charge against Miss Williams on April 1. On Monday, she pleaded not guilty to driving under the influence but waived her right to a trial, and Judge Dennis Sweeney found her guilty.

Sentencing was set for July 7.

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