Man convicted of hitting, killing JHU student asks for new trial

Thomas Lee Meighan Jr., convicted last year of hitting and killing a Johns Hopkins University student with his car, asked a Baltimore circuit judge Thursday to let him take back his guilty plea and go to trial, arguing that he did not know about some evidence in the case.

He said a forensic reconstruction of the 2009 accident shows that 20-year-old Miriam Frankl of Wilmette, Ill., was responsible for her own death, and that Julie Shapiro, his public defender, did not fully discuss with him the conclusions of the report.

"Had I seen this, I would never have pled guilty," Meighan, 42, testified at a hearing Thursday. "I don't think anybody would."

Shapiro testified that she had discussed the report with Meighan and had handed a copy to the judge at the time he entered his guilty plea.

"We went over this a number of times," she said.

Wrapping up the hearing, Assistant State's Attorney Paul O'Connor said that Meighan was "grasping at straws."

Meighan has a long record of traffic and criminal convictions and has asked for second chances after being locked up before.

"Alcohol has all but destroyed my life," Meighan wrote at one point in an undated letter to a judge.

He also wrote to The Baltimore Sun in May, saying that he was not drunk, high or speeding when he hit Frankl, and asking for an apology from the media who covered his case.

But prosecutors were prepared to call numerous witnesses who had reported seeing him causing havoc on the city's roads the day he hit Frankl as she crossed St. Paul Street near the university.

In addition to at least nine drunken-driving convictions, Meighan's criminal history includes convictions for marijuana possession, battery, disorderly conduct, theft and escape from a halfway house. At the time he hit Frankl, he was out on bail in another hit-and-run case to which he pleaded guilty as part of the deal over the student's death.

Judge Michael W. Reed said he will rule on the Meighan's request "relatively soon."

Copyright © 2020, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad