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Victim's Family Outraged that Driver Fined $500 in Fatal Gambrills Crash

A witness statement that a Severn woman was texting while driving didn't match with physical evidence, prosecutors said, so a plea deal in the case was reached.

Jonathan Roberts, 30, of Aylett, VA, shown with his daughter, was killed last year in a crash near Gambrills. Credit: Screenshot from WBAL TV
Jonathan Roberts, 30, of Aylett, VA, shown with his daughter, was killed last year in a crash near Gambrills. Credit: Screenshot from WBAL TV

by Deb Belt, Annapolis Patch

Family members of a Virginia man killed in a Gambrills crash are outraged that a 21-year-old Anne Arundel County woman will face only a fine in connection with the accident that police said was caused by texting while driving. 

In March 2013, police said Elizabeth Meyers, of Severn, was texting behind the wheel along Route 3 in Gambrills when she hit and killed Jonathan Roberts, 30, of Aylett, VA, reports WBAL TV.

Officials said Roberts had the right of way on his motorcycle.

At the time of the crash, the State's Attorney's Office said a teenage witness told police he saw Meyers texting on a cellphone as she pulled into the roadway and that cellphone records corroborated that statement. But, the prosecutor said she dropped the stiffer charges when the original statement given by the teenage witness did not match other evidence.

Meyers initially faced six charges: Negligent manslaughter by motor vehicle, criminal negligent manslaughter, reckless driving, negligent driving, failure to yield the right of way and text messaging while driving.

On Monday, Meyers pleaded guilty to negligent driving and was fined $500.

Meyers' defense attorney, Andrew White, told WBAL TV that phone records confirmed that Meyers was texting two minutes before the crash when she was still at work, but not while driving.

But the victim's family still called the deal a travesty.

"They're really horrified that this can happen. That apparently the value of a life in the state of Maryland when it's lost in a motor vehicle collision caused by criminal negligence -- the value of that life is $500 and three points," said Jonathan Halperin, the attorney for Roberts' family.

Roberts' family said they believe the texting timeline was tight enough that prosecutors should have let a jury decide whether distracted driving caused the crash.

"We told them, even if you lose, we will accept that, but try the case. Let people hear it, and let them decide," said Joe Clark, the victim's uncle.

Especially, Halperin said, in light of the fact that the fatal crash wasn’t the only time that Meyers had been accused of reckless driving.

"Less than three weeks ago, she got another reckless driving for going 85 mph in a 55 mph in Anne Arundel County," Halperin said. "How many people does she have to kill before she loses her license? That's the question we'd really like answered."

The Roberts family is pursuing a civil lawsuit against Meyers and her mother. Their attorney is arguing that Meyers' negligence killed Roberts and that Meyers' mother contributed to the crash by loaning her daughter the car and texting with Meyers when she knew she might be behind the wheel.

Jan May 14, 2014 at 07:44 PM
My first thought is an assumption - that she knows someone who knows someone who knows someone.
Susan May 14, 2014 at 10:21 PM
Even without the texting the article said the guy who was killed had the right of way. So how does she get off with a $500 fine when she killed a man?
Rodger Higgins May 15, 2014 at 02:44 AM
Hopefully karma will be enacted and soon.
Eric S May 15, 2014 at 10:12 AM
This is absurd. We know the dangers of distracted driving. We know the legal concept of responsibility for our actions. Someone is dead because of her avoidable actions, actions we know are dangerous. She should be in prison.
John Strother May 15, 2014 at 11:46 AM
This young woman loves to go fast. That is the issue. She seems to have a lead foot. Better put a flashing light on her car so others will get out of her way. She has killed once, there will be another. Plus , I believe even if her license is revoked, she will still drive. She is out of control. I bet she made one hell of a deal and will be in witness protection.

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