Severn woman pleads guilty to negligent driving in fatal crash
By By Pamela Wood and The Baltimore Sun
May 12, 2014 | 7:10 PM
A 21-year-old woman police had accused of distracted driving in a fatal 2013 crash in Anne Arundel County pleaded guilty Monday to a lesser traffic charge and was fined $500 after prosecutors acknowledged they couldn't prove she had been texting during the accident.
Elizabeth Haley Meyers of Severn pleaded guilty to negligent driving. She had faced charges of felony auto manslaughter and misdemeanor criminally negligent manslaughter, both of which carry jail time, for her role in the crash that killed 30-year-old Jonathan Roberts on Route 3 in Gambrills last year.
Prosecutors dropped those charges, as well as other traffic charges as part of a plea agreement. That did not sit well with members of the Roberts' family who traveled from Virginia and New Jersey to Anne Arundel Circuit Court in Annapolis for the court hearing.
Carol Meloy, Roberts' grandmother, said in court the state's attorney's office should be investigated because "they're not doing their job."
"There's no justice for my grandson, none at all. She's going to walk free," Meloy said of Meyers.
On March 10, 2013, Roberts was riding his 2007 Suzuki motorcycle northbound on Route 3, according to police and prosecutors.
Meyers pulled out onto Route 3 in her 2008 Chevy Cobalt, headed toward a convenience store in the median of the divided highway, police said. The Cobalt struck the motorcycle, and Roberts was thrown into the air. He died at Baltimore Washington Medical Center in Glen Burnie.
At the time of the incident, police said an eyewitness told them Meyers was using a cellphone and didn't bring the car to a stop before crossing the highway.
But Anne Arundel County State's Attorney Anne Colt Leitess said Monday a data recording device in the car indicated she did stop, and prosecutors could not prove Meyers was texting while driving. Leitess said phone records show text messages were sent one to two minutes before the crash.
"We were no longer confident in the eyewitness' account," Leitess said after the court hearing. She said it would have been problematic to proceed with the charges. "We can't throw things up and see where the chips fall."
Andrew White, Meyers' attorney, said his client was not guilty of a criminal act. He said she was going no faster than 14 mph and never saw the motorcycle approaching, possibly because another car was coming across the road from the other direction.
"It's really unfair to demonize this young girl for coming across the roadway at a slow rate of speed. It's crazy to think she's criminally wrong," White said after the hearing.
Roberts' family is suing Meyers for $5 million in a civil case, saying they hope to win an award to help Roberts' now-4-year-old daughter, Casey.
Meyers did not address the judge during the hearing. She looked straight ahead as Roberts' mother, Barbara Hartle, faced her and said, "Ms. Meyers, what you did can't be undone. You've taken away from me my only son."
Roberts had served three years in the Navy and had ambitions to build custom motorcycles, his family said. Though his family is from Virginia, he was living in Maryland and attending welding school at the time of his death.