Had Veronica Trinidad been driving within the speed limit in 2010 when her car collided with another at a South Toledo intersection, Erin Marious probably would have survived the crash, according to accident investigators, an assistant Lucas County prosecutor said Tuesday.
But even though she was speeding, Ms. Trinidad did not meet the legal definition for felony aggravated vehicular homicide and so entered a plea to a misdemeanor charge.
Trinidad, 26, of 1160 Radcliffe Dr., pleaded no contest in common pleas court to vehicular homicide, a first-degree misdemeanor.
Judge Frederick McDonald found her guilty and set a June 12 sentencing date.
Assistant Prosecutor Andy Lastra explained that the charge was reduced from a third-degree felony because recklessness could not be proven, which is required for the higher charge.
Mr. Lastra said that the Ohio 6th District Court of Appeals had ruled that proof of excessive speeding alone does not meet the legal definition of driving recklessly.
"As a matter of law, the state of Ohio believes that had this case gone to trial, [we] would not be able to meet the burden of proof … " he said. Mr. Lastra then asked that the indictment be amended to say Ms. Trinidad negligently rather than recklessly caused the death of another.
Ms. Marious, 18, died May 7, 2010, in Toledo Hospital as a result of injuries she suffered in the crash six days earlier.
Mr. Lastra said Ms. Trinidad was driving southwest on Broadway at high speed when she broadsided Ms. Marious' vehicle.
Ms. Marious, who lived a block away from Ms. Trinidad on Radcliffe, was turning left onto Broadway from a stop sign on Salem Street when her car was struck.
Authorities believe Ms. Trinidad was traveling at least 55 mph in a 35-mph zone when the cars collided.
Mr. Lastra said that accident reconstruction investigators believe that Ms. Marious' view of the oncoming vehicle was hidden by parked cars, trees, and a curve in the street.
Ms. Trinidad was tearful as she answered Judge McDonald's questions in court.
Through her attorney, Martin McMannus, she declined to comment on the plea. Mr. McMannus also declined to comment.
When sentenced, Ms. Trinidad faces up to six months in jail, a maximum $1,000 fine, and a driver's license suspension of up to five years.
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