Westminster woman not criminally responsible for crash that derailed deputy's career

Westminster woman not criminally responsible for crash that derailed deputy's career
Cpl. Brant Webb, left, who was seriously injured in a car crash while on duty, is awarded the Carroll County Sheriff's Office's first Purple Heart Award, presented by Sheriff Jim DeWees, right, during the sheriff's office Employee Awards Ceremony on Wednesday, March 30, 2016. (DYLAN SLAGLE/STAFF PHOTO / Carroll County Times)

Cpl. Brant Webb heard the high-pitched noise of his radar sounding, indicating the car driving toward him was going at a high speed. His last thought before the collision was to open his driver's side door in an attempt to get out.

Webb spoke about the crash on Jan. 27, 2016, at a Wednesday plea hearing for Anna Donohoe, 23, of the 4000 block of Iroquois Drive in Westminster.


"I remember watching your vehicle speeding toward me as I pulled over on the shoulder," Webb said.

On Wednesday, Donohoe pleaded not guilty, with agreement to the state's statement of facts, to a count of second-degree assault and a count of reckless driving, in Carroll County Circuit Court.

Presiding Judge Thomas Stansfield found her to be guilty but not criminally responsible. As part of Donohoe's conditional release, which will run for five years with supervision by pre-trial services for the first three, Donohoe must surrender her driver's license for three years and cannot drive a motor vehicle for three years. She is also to continue her mental health treatment as directed.

Donohoe was driving eastbound on Md. 26 near Franklinville Road when Webb clocked her speed at 95 mph, well over the posted 55 mph, according to a statement of facts read by Circuit Court Chief State's Attorney Allan Culver during Donohoe's plea hearing Wednesday.

According to the statement of facts, Webb, who was driving westbound, pulled onto the shoulder so he could make a U-turn with plans to follow the speeding vehicle. Instead of driving past him, Donohoe drove her vehicle across the double-yellow lines and hit Webb's patrol car head on.

Donohoe was charged with second-degree assault and reckless driving after an investigation by the Carroll County State's Attorney's Office that involved a grand jury, State's Attorney Brian DeLeonardo said.

The state and defense agreed to the state of her criminal responsibility. According to Maryland code, to be criminally responsible a person must not be able to fully understand the criminality of their actions or they cannot adjust their conduct to what is required by the law.

DeLeonardo said that Donohoe had a well-documented history of mental illness, which also played into how they charged her. Because they could not determine her mindset due to the mental health episode, they could not show intent, which is required of some of the higher charges, he said.

According to the statement of facts Culver read, Donohoe sped up as she approached Webb's vehicle, did not apply her brakes and did not attempt to avoid him. The estimated impact speed was between 81 and 93 mph.

The sound of his radar reacting to her speed haunts him in the nightmares he's had since the crash, Webb said in court.

The impact of the crash on Webb isn't all physical, he said. While he suffered from multiple injuries, including crushed feet, bruised ribs, a cut to his head and a dislocated knee, there are also mental challenges that have come after the collision. Webb said he's had post-traumatic stress disorder since the incident, coupled with insomnia and nightmares. And the crash cost him his dream job, he said.

"I will never be able to return to my job as a police officer," Webb said in court.

Sheriff Jim DeWees called Webb one of his best deputies.

"No sentence will restore Corporal Webb to what he was before this assault. The selfish act of another altered the course of Corporal Webb's life, his famil[y's] and took one of my best deputies away from protecting the citizens of this county, which he loved doing," DeWees wrote in a text message statement to the Times. "The men and women of the sheriff's office, along with his family, friends, county government, local nonprofit groups and hundreds of people the Webb[s] have never met stepped up to take care of him and his family. My office only asks a fair sentence be imposed and Ms. Donohoe takes responsibility for her actions."


Webb is working in the Sheriff's Office's criminal division, but he said in court that it's difficult for him to make it through an eight-hour day due to his injuries. And that's when he can go to work and not miss it because of the continuing health appointments he has to attend to address his physical and mental injuries.

At the hearing, Webb's family also spoke, with his wife describing the changes in their lives since the crash.

"Gosh, where do I begin? How do I put into words how much this crash has impacted our lives?" Mary Webb said.

Because of the crash, Mary Webb had to take a leave of absence from her job in order to help care for her husband. And as a wife and mother, she said it's heartbreaking to see Brant Webb say he wished he had a new pair of feet in order to play with his kids or attend their games.

Colin Webb, the Webbs' son, submitted a statement Culver read. In the statement, Colin said he didn't understand how someone could want to ruin someone else's life.

"Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine something so horrible would happen, not just to my father, but my biggest role model," according to the statement Culver read.

Brant Webb addressed Donohoe in his statement, saying he does not know what was going on in her head the night of the collision, but he said he hoped that she received the help she needed.

Donohoe's attorney Andrew Alpert read a statement in court from Donohoe and her family. In the statement, the family said they are praying for a recovery for Donohoe and Webb.

"We offer our sincerest apologies to Cpl. Webb, his family and his agency for the trauma caused by this incident," according to the statement Alpert read.