A woman who was convicted of a traffic violation in the 2016 hit-and-run death of a 19-year-old man in Edgewater could soon be able to erase the incident from her record.
Caroline Grace Hurley, 31, was convicted in February of failing to immediately stop a vehicle at the scene of an accident involving a death. An Anne Arundel Circuit Court judge agreed on Thursday to reduce the disposition to probation before judgment.
If Hurley doesn’t violate her probation, she will be able to expunge the conviction from her record.
It’s the latest development in the case that has enraged the family of victim David Allen Decheubel Jr. Family members have accused investigators and prosecutors of botching the case.
“He was found by a garbage man and he was treated like garbage by the state’s attorney,” said Decheubel’s mother, Lisa A. Saunders. “Now, the court system just gave her two thumbs up to do it again.”
“This was a very difficult case from the outset,” Anne Arundel State’s Attorney Wes Adams said in a statement. “Although [the family] disagreed with our decision to resolve the case through a plea, my office has made every effort to include the family throughout the process. I understand the impact that a death has on a family, and I empathize with them for their loss."
Adams said his office opposed the court’s recent decision to downgrade the disposition of the case.
The then-owner of the car repair shop, Lisa McAdams, had heard of the hit-and-run and became suspicious when the vehicle arrived, police said. Workers at the body shop did not believe damage to the car was the result of a deer accident, police said.
Manager Frank Williams told The Baltimore Sun that there was a black mark across the hood that looked like it could have been from a shoe.
“Never seen that on a deer hit,” he said. “And we’ve seen hundreds of them.”
The police officer who initially inspected the car wrote that the damage was consistent with a deer collision, with “short brown hairs embedded in the fractured glass of the windshield.”
A police collision analyst later found that the damage was “consistent with a pedestrian strike,” authorities said.
Police did not interview Hurley until a week after the hit-and-run, too late to perform a Breathalyzer test. Police said she told investigators that she hit a large deer on Central Avenue on the way home from the store and saw the deer run back into the woods.
DNA testing eventually confirmed that the hair found on her car belonged to a Caucasian man.
In February, prosecutors made a plea deal with Hurley in which six of seven traffic charges were dropped. She pleaded not guilty to failing to immediately stop a vehicle at the scene of an accident involving a death, but agreed to a statement of facts.
She was convicted and sentenced to one year in prison, with all but six months suspended, and the sentence to be served under home detention.
For Lisa Saunders, the hardest part is imagining her son lying on the side of the road for hours. She said it’s impossible to know whether he could have been saved if someone called 911.
“It’s really, really hard to think of that,” she said.
Ducheubel was living with his family in Prince George's County, where he attended Eleanor Roosevelt High School but dropped out before graduation. He worked at Taco Bell and earned a welding certificate through a Job Corps program. He had begun volunteering with an area fire department, according to his mother.
His mother said he wanted to become an underwater welder and a firefighter.
“He was loving and kind,” Saunders said. “He was a good kid.”