maryland woman pleads guilty in fatal car accident
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Maria Alejandra Espinoza, 23, of Clarksville, Md., pled guilty today to crashing her car while driving intoxicated, which resulted in the death of one passenger and life-threatening injuries to another.
Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, made the announcement after the plea was accepted by United States District Judge Claude M. Hilton.
“This is a tragic case that highlights the fatal consequences of drunk and distracted driving,” said U.S. Attorney MacBride. “No prosecution can take back the events of that night. But we investigated the case and brought involuntary manslaughter and related charges to hold the driver responsible for her actions.”
Espinoza faces a maximum term of eight years in prison involuntary manslaughter and a maximum of five years in prison for maiming resulting from driving while intoxicated when she is sentenced on Feb. 18, 2011.
According to a statement of facts filed with her plea agreement, Espinoza admitted that at approximately 2:00 a.m. on Oct. 13, 2009, she was driving along the George Washington Memorial Parkway – a federal roadway – when she was involved in a single car crash, resulting in the death of her front seat passenger, Ashley Roberta, 22, and life threatening and permanent injuries to Charles (Charlie) Davies Jr., 23, her back seat passenger. Espinoza’s blood contained a blood alcohol concentration of 0.13%.
The statement of facts reveals that Espinoza and Roberta had arranged to meet with Davies at a Georgetown restaurant the evening of Oct. 12, 2009. The three later left the restaurant and arrived at a private event hosted by Roberta’s employer at a nearby Washington, D.C., nightclub. The three separated to socialize, and as the event was winding down, Espinoza agreed to give Davies a ride back to his hotel in Crystal City, Va.
Espinoza was unfamiliar with the George Washington Memorial Parkway and the location of Davies’ hotel or how to get there. Davies also was unfamiliar with directions to the hotel. As a result, Espinoza used a blackberry to retrieve the street address and entered it into a portable GPS device located on the center console of her sport utility vehicle. While navigating her way to the Virginia hotel, Espinoza missed an exit and the GPS began to recalculate her position and the correct route to take. During this time Espinoza looked away from the road to look at her GPS device. Espinoza admitted in court today that she was driving above the posted speed limit of 40 miles per hour, she was distracted with the GPS, and she was intoxicated. All of these factors resulted in her crash into the Boundary Channel bridge abutment.
Once emergency personnel arrived on the scene, Davies was extricated and transported by helicopter to Medstar in critical condition. He incurred life-threatening and permanent injuries as a result of the accident that have resulted in numerous surgeries and significant rehabilitative therapy. Roberta was pronounced dead on the scene. Espinoza was transported to Medstar by ambulance for observation and treatment of minor injuries.
This case was investigated by the United States Park Police. Special Assistant United States Attorneys Rosanne C. Haney and Patricia Haynes prosecuted the case on behalf of the United States.A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/vae. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.vaed.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.uspci.uscourts.gov.