A 26-year-old Pasadena woman was sentenced in Anne Arundel Circuit Court yesterday to a year in prison and a year under house arrest for tossing her 7-year-old daughter from a moving car and then driving off.
Donna Marie Candella of the 8200 block of Baltimore-Annapolis Blvd. sobbed quietly after being sentenced by Judge Martin A. Wolff, who said he was troubled by the case.
"I find it very difficult to comprehend any parent who could one, push a child out of a car, and secondly, not stop immediately to see if the child was hurt," Judge Wolff said.
He also sentenced her to three years' probation.
"I wish that it never happened, that I could just turn the clocks back," said Candella, a mother of two who works in a Pasadena pizza shop.
Candella's mother, Florence Humphreys, tearfully hugged her daughter as she was led away by sheriff's deputies.
She later declined to comment.
Candella was convicted by a jury July 29 of child abuse, reckless endangerment, battery and assault. Her two-day trial included testimony from a woman driving the car behind Candella on April 5.
Linda McMillion, a mother of three who was northbound in her Plymouth Voyager, choked back tears as she recalled how the 7-year-old child became "airborne" in the 8800 block of Fort Smallwood Road.
Candella testified that her daughter, Mandy, jumped from her 1978 Chevette.
She said she was traveling at only 25 mph when Mandy jumped and that she was near the doorstep of Mrs. Humphreys' home, where the girl preferred to spend her time.
She said she didn't stop because she "didn't get along" with Mrs. Humphreys and wanted to avoid fighting with her.
Assistant State's Attorney Robert Bittman yesterday asked for a three-year sentence, saying the judge should "send a message" on the severity of child abuse.
"This was more than stupid. This was a despicable act by a very desperate woman," Mr. Bittman said.
Defense attorney B. Craig Wald of Glen Burnie said Candella passed a lie detector test affirming that Mandy jumped from the car.
But, he said, the fact that his client never stopped afterward was too damaging to overcome.
After the sentencing, Mr. Wald said that his client's two children will be living with a maternal aunt in Pasadena.
"It's just a tragic case all around," he said.