A decorated Vietnam veteran was fined $500 and sentenced to five years' probation yesterday after conceding that prosecutors could convict him of drunken-driving charges from an accident last fall that killed an 80-year-old woman on her way to church.
John E. Moore, 45, of Mayo Road, Glen Burnie, entered an Alford plea to negligent driving and driving while under the influence of alcohol in the death of Wilma Utter of Jackson, Mich. He agreed that the state had enough evidence to convict him, but did not admit guilt.
Mrs. Utter was a passenger in her granddaughter's car on Oct. 5 when the 1979 Ford van Mr. Moore was driving south on Crain Highway crossed the center line and struck the victim's car head-on.
Mr. Moore told police then that the victim's car veered suddenly out in front of him from Roosevelt Road, which caused him to swerve into it, his lawyer, Timothy Murnane, said.
During the sentencing hearing yesterday, Mr. Moore argued that he was not at fault, and that he "didn't do anything wrong."
In addition to the fine and probation, Circuit Judge Raymond G. Thieme Jr. ordered Mr. Moore to undergo psychiatric counseling and perform 100 hours of community service as part of the sentence.
Frederick M. Paone, assistant state's attorney, said the state Motor Vehicle Administration also will review Mr. Moore's driving record to see if his license should be revoked.
Mr. Murnane said Mr. Moore served two combat tours of duty in Vietnam, where he won two Bronze Stars, and that his experience in Vietnam added to the trauma he experienced after the crash.
"He saw loss of life first hand over there, and this experience brought all of that back to him," Mr. Murnane said.
Mr. Moore scored a .06 reading on a Breathalyzer test shortly after the accident, and he admitted to having had three beers over the course of three hours after mowing the lawn at his mother's house, Mr. Murnane said.
A reading of .10 is considered legally drunk in Maryland.
Mr. Murnane contended that Mr. Moore, a laid-off truck driver and the father of two, was unfairly prosecuted because he has a speech impairment stemming from a brain injury suffered in an accident six years ago.
Officers may have focused on him because they could not understand his explanation, he argued.