Maryland Man Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison For Traffic Fatality on Suitland Parkway
Driver, Under Influence of Alcohol and PCP, Struck Woman Near Disabled Vehicle
WASHINGTON – Robert Paris, 52, of Temple Hills, Md., was sentenced today to a 10-year prison term on charges of voluntary manslaughter and driving under the influence of alcohol and PCP, stemming from a crash that killed a woman who was standing beside a disabled van along the roadway of Suitland Parkway, U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips announced.
Paris pled guilty in September 2015, in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, in an Alford plea. Under such a plea, the defendant does not admit the allegations but agrees that the government has enough evidence to secure a conviction; Paris entered an Alford plea because of his intoxication by alcohol and PCP at the time of the crash, and his inability to recollect events. He has been in custody since his arrest. The Honorable Jennifer Anderson sentenced him today. Following his prison term, Paris will be placed on five years of supervised release.
According to the government’s evidence, at about 10:15 p.m. on Tuesday, July 14, 2015, Paris was seen by an off-duty officer from the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) driving a Ford Ranger truck from a ramp onto eastbound Suitland Parkway in Southeast Washington. The officer observed the Ford Ranger merge at a high rate of speed, far in excess of the 45 mph speed limit, and swerve over to the left lane.
While attempting to catch up to Paris’s truck, the officer saw the truck sideswipe a disabled van that was straddling the right lane and shoulder of Suitland Parkway. The victim, Tomika Early, 32, had been standing next to the driver’s side of the van, and was struck by Paris’s truck and thrown approximately 160 feet forward and to the right. Ms. Early was immediately killed by the extensive impact injuries.
After sideswiping the van and killing Ms. Early, Paris continued to speed eastbound on Suitland Parkway, and struck second vehicle and then a street light pole before coming to a stop.
The officer immediately stopped and approached Paris’s wrecked truck, and saw Paris in the driver’s seat. The officer attempted to talk to Paris, and it was apparent to the officer that Paris was under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. The officer also saw an opened beer can on the floorboard of the truck, and a number of additional crushed empty beer cans in the bed of the truck. Paris was taken to Prince George’s Hospital Center to be treated for minor injuries. There, his blood was drawn. His blood was later analyzed and it was determined that Paris’s blood alcohol concentration was 0.131 g/100mL. A driver whose blood alcohol concentration is 0.08 g/100mL or greater is considered under District of Columbia law to be per se driving under the influence of alcohol. Paris’s blood was also found to contain a concentration of 25 ng/mL of PCP, which indicates that he was actively under the influence of PCP when the crash occurred.
In announcing the sentence, U.S. Attorney Phillips praised those who investigated the case for the Metropolitan Police Department, including members of the Major Crash Investigations Unit, the Driver Impairment Unit and the Seventh District. He also expressed appreciation for those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Paralegal Specialist Sandra Lane and Victim/Witness Advocate Marcia Rinker. Finally, he commended the work of Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward A. O’Connell, who prosecuted the matter.