The woman who struck and killed a 5-year-old girl and her grandmother in a Timonium crash last year was sentenced Monday to 10 years in prison.
The woman who struck and killed a 5-year-old girl and her grandmother in a Timonium crash last year was sentenced Monday to serve 10 years in prison.
Callie Noble Schwarzman, 23, pleaded guilty in September to two counts of automobile manslaughter in the deaths of 5-year-old Delaney Gaddis and 60-year-old Deborah Limmer.
In addition to the 10-year sentence she imposed, Baltimore County Circuit Court Judge Nancy Purpura ordered Schwarzman to comply with substance abuse and mental health treatment, and have “absolutely no” contact with the family of the victims. Purpura also sentenced Schwarzman to five years of supervised probation upon release.
During the sentencing, Purpura said this case was one of the most “tragic cases” she has seen in her career as a lawyer and judge. Speaking to Delaney and Limmer’s family, Purpura choked up as she said it was “obvious” how much the family cared for the victims. Purpura said she hopes that, in time, the family will be able to find some comfort.
In court, prosecutors said Schwarzman’s blood contained no alcohol, but did contain clonazepam, a sedative; methadone, a narcotic; and THC, a compound found in marijuana, at the time of the crash. Those drugs may have had an additive effect, prosecutors said, and may have played a role in the crash.
Prosecutors said Schwarzman was driving 44 mph in an area with a 25 mph speed limit.
“We all have a duty to each other when we drive on our roads,” Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger said.
He called Schwarzman’s irresponsibility “immeasurable.”
Sentencing guidelines called for three to 14 years on each count, officials said during court proceedings. Schwarzman was sentenced to 10 years incarceration on both counts to be served consecutively, meaning she was facing 20 years in prison. However, five years of each count were suspended, giving her 10 years in prison.
During the hearing, Schwarzman’s defense attorney Patrick Preller outlined several ways his client has worked to improve herself since being incarcerated, including looking into continuing education at community college and taking mental health and substance abuse awareness classes.
Preller said repeatedly that he was not making excuses, and that Schwarzman was taking full responsibility for what happened. Rather, Preller said, he wanted to explain the circumstances, including that Girdwood Road, where the collision occurred, was a dangerous area, that the power steering in Schwarzman’s SUV had failed and that the ground was wet at the time of the crash.
He also said Schwarzman has a history of trauma and mental health disorders.
Schwarzman, given the opportunity to speak for herself in court, talked quickly and through tears, saying she thinks about the accident all the time. She said she is committed to working to improve herself and become a better person. She said there are “no words” to describe how she felt and that she feels an “incredibly heavy weight.”
“I wish all the time I could sacrifice something to take back my actions,” Schwarzman said.
Purpura acknowledged Schwarzman’s personal history, but said she was “not persuaded that she did not know it was unsafe.”
Shellenberger said after the sentencing hearing that he was pleased Purpura ordered the 10-year sentence. He said that in three years, Schwarzman will be able to apply for drug treatment in lieu of incarceration, but that there is no guarantee that will happen.
More than a dozen written victim impact statements were submitted to the court under seal, Shellenberger said during the hearing. About two dozen family members and friends sat in court during the sentencing hearing.
Jennifer Gaddis, the mother of 5-year-old Delaney and daughter of 60-year-old Limmer, spoke during the sentencing hearing. Alternating between facing Schwarzman and Purpura, Gaddis said she lost “two of the most important people of my life” in a “senseless tragedy.” She asked Purpura to consider the maximum sentence for Schwarzman, and to issue the no contact order.
Crying as she spoke, Gaddis said she’s had to miss work and that her marriage has suffered because she and her husband do not grieve in the same way. She said she has panic attacks on a regular basis, and that she’s been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and major depressive disorder since the accident in 2018.
She said Delaney was her only child, and that it took her and her husband “years” to conceive. Gaddis said she very recently began hormone treatment to try for another child through in vitro fertilization.
Speaking to Schwarzman directly, Gaddis told her that Delaney was holding her security blanket — pink with white stripes — when she died, and that she was cremated with that blanket. And she told Schwarzman that Delaney’s favorite color was red, “just like the red you’re wearing,” referring to the prison outfit that Schwarzman wore in court.
Gaddis said she hoped Schwarzman remembered Delaney any time she wore red or saw a child holding a blanket.
Rob Limmer, another of Deborah Limmer’s children, said his mother was “the person who made my life extraordinary,” and that she had helped with childcare. Deborah Limmer would host family dinners every Wednesday night, he said.
Rob Limmer said he is at times “overwhelmed with guilt” because he has two children who are alive and healthy, but Delaney is gone. He said that following the deaths of his niece and his mother, there is “a void in my heart that takes away from every happy moment.”
Tom Limmer, another son of Deborah Limmer, said the crash “obliterated the life that we had.” He said she had “unmatched tenacity and love for her children.”
Deborah Limmer raised Tom Limmer and his siblings as a single mother, he said, and bought a home in Timonium and renovated it room-by-room.
“The reason she did all this was for us, her family,” Tom Limmer said.
Tom Limmer said he would often sit down with his mother for coffee in the morning. He said the two had a special relationship, and they would talk about everything and anything. He called Deborah Limmer his rock and his North star.