A 22-year-old Westminster man, one of three men involved in the 1998 vehicular manslaughter of a Westminster woman, had his six-year prison sentence reduced by one year at a hearing yesterday before visiting Circuit Judge Daniel W. Moylan.
Before announcing his decision, the judge said he was impressed with Frederick H. Hensen Jr.'s perfect conduct record and his "deep remorse."
Moylan agreed that Hensen and co-defendants Scott D. Broadfoot Sr., 25, of Parkville and Mark E. Eppig, 22, of Westminster shared equally in causing the death of Geraldine Lane "Geri" Wu in June 1998 when they raced their cars on Route 140 near Finksburg.
Eppig, whose car went out of control, crossed the median and crashed into Wu's car, pleaded guilty in October 1998 to vehicular manslaughter. He also pleaded guilty to second-degree assault of Wu's 15-year-old daughter, Min-li, who was injured in the collision. Eppig was sentenced to three years in the Carroll County Detention Center,
Broadfoot and Hensen were convicted by a jury on the same charges as Eppig. But Broadfoot was sentenced to four years, and Hensen received the longest term.
J. Barry Hughes, Hensen's attorney, has also filed an appeal against the sentence, but that has not been heard.
Moylan said his initial decision to impose a six-year term on Hensen was influenced by the man's bad driving record, which contained a dozen traffic violations three of which involved speeds in excess of 30 mph above the limit.
During yesterday's hearing, Hughes asked Moylan to reduce his client's sentence because of his record of good behavior in prison. He said Hensen needs to support his family, but has no work-release privileges while in prison. He said his client was denied access to the Herman L. Toulson Boot Camp in Jessup because of the "nature of the crime."
Prosecutor David P. Daggett called the original sentence fair. He said that Hensen's driving record was amassed in less time than Broadfoot's, who had seven speeding convictions.
Daggett also reminded Moylan that inmates within the Division of Corrections are eligible for a parole hearing after serving 25 percent of their sentence. Hensen, he said, might get out sooner than Broadfoot because he can earn 10 days of good conduct credit per month, as well as 10 days of industrial-time credit each month for work at the Sykesville minimum-security facility. At the hearing, Hensen became tearful, expressing his concern for the pain he has caused "everybody involved, the Wu family, my own family and to myself."
Moylan reminded Hensen that the original sentence on the manslaughter charge was 10 years with four years suspended. He said he would be "exceedingly unsympathetic" if, after Hensen served his time, he ever violated the terms of his probation by speeding recklessly during his five years of probation. The judge then modified the original sentence by suspending five years
He also reduced fines of $6,000 to $3,000 and said he would recommend that Hensen be reconsidered for admission to the Toulson Boot Camp with work release.
The judge also left open the motion for modification, which would allow Hensen to return and seek a further change in his sentence in June, about the same time he could be eligible to have a parole hearing.
"I kept modification motions open for the other two defendants, so I will do the same in this case," Moylan said.
Pub Date: 9/15/99