One of three men convicted in the auto manslaughter death of a Carroll County teacher had his four-year jail sentence trimmed in half yesterday, eliciting disappointment from the victim's family and a veteran prosecutor.
Scott D. Broadfoot, 27, of Parkville has served 13 months in the work-release program for his part in a three-car, high-speed race on Route 140 in which Geraldine "Geri" Lane Wu was killed in a head-on collision June 1, 1998. Her daughter, Min-li, 15, was injured in the crash.
After hearing about Broadfoot's family problems - he has divorced his wife and wants to get out of jail to take custody of his son - and how the defendant has been a model inmate, Circuit Court Judge Daniel W. Moylan altered his original sentence.
Broadfoot had been sentenced to 10 years in prison, with six years suspended and four years to be served with work release at the Carroll County Detention Center.
Moylan, a retired visiting judge from Washington County, yesterday suspended eight years of the 10-year term, warning Broadfoot he would go to prison, not the local jail, for those eight years if he violates probation.
Broadfoot must complete five months at the Carroll County Detention Center and be on home detention for six months before beginning five years' probation.
Laurence Wu, the victim's husband and a Western Maryland College philosophy professor, was not pleased.
"I thought [Broadfoot] got a very good deal when he was sentenced to four years with work release, so I was very surprised and disappointed [at the judge's decision]," Wu said.
"The argument about his wife not being a good mother for his son, therefore let him go, what kind of an argument is that?" Wu asked. "I'm afraid the judge set a very bad precedent."
Prosecutor David P. Daggett also expressed disappointment for the Wu family and called the modification "unfair to Mark Eppig."
Eppig, 24, of Westminster, pleaded guilty, admitting that he was speeding in excess of 85 mph during a race with Broadfoot and Frederick H. Hensen Jr., 23, of Westminster on the night he lost control of his Nissan, spun across the grass median and crashed head-on into Wu's Mitsubishi.
"I feel it's unfair that Mr. Eppig did the right thing in pleading guilty and will end up with more jail time than Mr. Broadfoot," Daggett said.
Hensen, who along with Broadfoot was convicted by a jury, was sentenced to six years in state prison for his role in the fatal race from Westminster to Finksburg. Moylan made an issue of the driving records of the three men.
Eppig had no points on his record and was sentenced to three years by Judge Francis M. Arnold. A three-judge panel that reviewed Hensen's sentence in February said Broadfoot had a poor driving record, with seven speeding citations. But Hensen had at least 11 speeding convictions, including four five-point violations, meaning he was driving in excess of 85 mph.
Eppig's lawyers, David B. Irwin and Joseph Murtha, plan to file a sentence modification request within a day or two, Murtha said yesterday.
"Judge Moylan had said he would not hear our reconsideration motion for modification until after Mark Eppig had served at least 18 months," Murtha said. He said Eppig recently completed 18 months of his three-year term.