Defendant in fatal car wreck asks for juvenile trial Judge had ordered him tried as adult


A month ago, a Carroll County judge ruled that an adult court will hear the case against a 16-year-old Mount Airy boy charged with three counts of automobile manslaughter stemming from a fatal crash.

Now, Donny Eugene Simms is asking to have his case returned to the juvenile system, saying he "is not a threat to the public safety."

Carroll Circuit Judge Francis M. Arnold ordered the Simms case transferred to adult court Sept. 24. Observers of that 90-minute closed hearing -- including an assistant state's attorney -- said the judge wanted the case heard in the open because of its seriousness and the need to deter other teen-agers from drinking and driving.

"The fact that others in society may be deterred by waiver of this case to adult court is not a factor to be considered by law when determining Donny Simms' fate," William T. Wood, his attorney, wrote in the request filed Friday afternoon.

"If the child can be rehabilitated and corrected, then that possibility should not be sacrificed to allow the child to be used as an example to society."

Mr. Wood could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Carroll State's Attorney Thomas E. Hickman said he will file an answer to Donny Simms' request in a week or so.

His office filed formal charges against the youth yesterday afternoon in Carroll Circuit Court.

In addition to the automobile manslaughter charges, the South Carroll High School student faces three charges of homicide by motor vehicle while intoxicated, and charges of felony theft, reckless driving, driving while intoxicated and speeding. If he is convicted, he could be sent to state prison for more than 45 years.

Eight teen-agers -- a brother and sister, cousins and best friends -- were in a stolen car when it crashed June 6 near a bridge on Liberty Road near Liberty Reservoir.

Six were thrown onto the two-lane road as the eastbound car went out of control and flipped onto its roof.

Dead at the scene were 15-year-old best friends Dink Diggs of Mount Airy and Christopher Norris of Marriottsville, and Donny Simms' sister, Donna, also 15.

Two other youths also were charged in the fatal crash, but Donny Simms is the only one whose case is going to trial.

Anthony Antonio Liason and Danny Barnes, both of Gaithersburg, were placed on probation last month by a juvenile court master and were ordered to perform community service. Each had been charged with felony auto theft and alcohol possession.

In accounts confirmed by state police, two survivors of the crash told The Sun that the Simms youth was driving a stolen Toyota Corolla at speeds up to 110 mph before it crashed.

Court records show that survivors of the crash and family members of the dead teen-agers did not want his case moved from the juvenile system.

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