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Deal struck in collision that killed 1; Ex-Westminster man probably will serve no more than 10 years; Family copes with injuries; Driver had taken painkillers before Route 140 crash


A former Westminster man can be sentenced to serve no more than 10 years in prison on burglary, auto manslaughter and related charges in a fatal accident on Route 140 in April, according to a plea agreement reached in Carroll County Circuit Court yesterday.

Mary Robinson, 27, one of the survivors of the crash that killed her husband, Richard Robinson, 28, of Randallstown, said she and family members will take a much longer time recovering from their injuries.

Jeffrey B. Quante IV, 26, of Hanover, Pa., pleaded not guilty but agreed to accept the state's version of the facts in three unrelated cases against him.

In return, Judge Luke K. Burns Jr. agreed to sentence Quante to serve no more than 10, but no less than eight, years in prison.

Burns revoked Quante's bail and denied his request to be placed on work release at the Carroll County Detention Center while he awaits sentencing March 1.

After sheriff's deputies ushered Quante from the courtroom, Mary Robinson stood leaning on a cane and said that nothing Quante could do or say would appease her.

Her husband was pronounced dead at the scene along Route 140, about four miles east of Taneytown, on April 6 after Quante's pickup truck crossed the center line and slammed head-on into the Robinsons' westbound van. Mary Robinson and three other family members were injured.

Quante also was treated for serious injuries at Maryland Shock Trauma Center.

According to witnesses, both vehicles were traveling about 55 mph at impact, said prosecutor Brian DeLeonardo. Richard Robinson drove his maroon Dodge van onto the north shoulder of the roadway, but a guardrail prevented him from avoiding the colli- sion, DeLeonardo said.

Mary Robinson and her mother-in-law, Diane Robinson, suffered fractured legs and life-threatening internal injuries.

Mary Robinson, who remained for about a month at Shock Trauma, has undergone 12 operations and faces "at least three more," she said.

Diane Robinson, 47, of Randallstown only began recently to get around with the aid of a walker, Mary Robinson said. Both receive physical therapy three times a week and likely will continue that regimen for a long time, she said.

Bradley Robinson, the couple's 3-year-old son, suffered a head injury and has been fitted with a device to relieve fluid building up in his brain. Mary Robinson said she lives in constant fear that the device could malfunction.

Son Zachary's injuries -- mainly cuts and bruises -- were much less serious, and he is "doing great," Mary Robinson said -- although the 1-year-old calls her "Daddy."

Each step she takes in therapy, each question her son asks is a reminder of their tragedy, she said.

"A constant reminder of what happened and how much I miss my husband," she said.

Any sentence Quante receives can't change that, said Mary Robinson, but she wants to tell her version of what happened. She said she "most definitely" plans to deliver a victim's impact statement at sentencing.

Mary Robinson said DeLeonardo consulted with her before fashioning the plea agreement. She said she was satisfied with the deal.

DeLeonardo said he would ask Burns to impose Quante's full 10-year sentence and place Quante on five years of supervised probation.

Burns found Quante guilty of first- and third-degree burglary for incidents Feb. 18 and 19 at homes on Silver Run Valley Road, the road where Quante lived at the time.

In those break-ins, he stole money and prescription painkillers, DeLeonardo said.

Burns also found Quante guilty of breaking into a girlfriend's home on Tyrone Road on April 6, where he stole money, painkillers and jewelry.

Quante was on his way from that burglary when witnesses reported seeing him slumped over the steering wheel of his pickup truck just before the collision that killed Richard Robinson.

Police found stolen items, marijuana and painkilling medication in the truck or strewn about the accident scene.

Burns found Quante guilty of auto manslaughter, life-threatening injuries to Mary, Diane and Bradley Robinson, possession of marijuana, possession of propoxyphene, a prescription painkiller, and driving while intoxicated.

DeLeonardo said Quante told state police when he surrendered May 11 that he had taken a handful of the painkiller tablets shortly before the fatal crash.

In return for the pleas, all other related charges were dropped, DeLeonardo said.

Pub Date: 1/06/99

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