A Beltsville woman who was driving drunk when she struck and killed two men who had stopped to exhange information after a fender bender was convicted Thursday of vehicular manslaughter.
A Prince George’s County jury deliberated for less than an hour before convicting Jenny Mate, 32, in connection with an accident that occurred Feb. 1, 2010 on Riggs Road in the Adelphi area. Roy Lacayo, 34, and Justo Rosario Jr., 30, were killed.
Mate also was found guilty of two counts of homicide by motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, driving under the influence and driving with a suspended license.
Circuit Court Judge Cathy H. Serrette ordered Mate taken into custody immediately. However, Mate whispered to her attorney, Anthony Keder, who told Serrette his client was four months pregnant and had a medical appointment scheduled for May 13. Serrette allowed Mate to remain free until May 16, when she will have to report to the county jail.
Relatives of Rosario and Lacayo said they were pleased with the verdict but disappointed that Mate was not immediately incarcerated.
Of the verdict, Justo E. Rosario Sr., said, “It’s what we hoped for.”
“I’m overjoyed with happiness that justice was served,” said Christie Lacayo, Roy Lacayo’s widow.
Keder said his client was disappointed with the verdict but had no further comment. He called no witnesses in Mate’s defense.
Prosecutors said Mate faces a potential maximum sentence of 21 years in prison.
The night of Feb. 1, 2010, Lacayo and Rosario were stopped on Riggs Road in the Adelphi area after they had been involved in a fender bender. Lacayo was driving a four-door Mercury sedan and Rosario was in an Infiniti sport utility vehicle. According to state witnesses, Lacayo and Rosario had parked their vehicles on the side of the two-lane road and were standing in between, exchanging insurance information.
At about 10:45 p.m., Mate, driving a 2005 Cadillac sport utility vehicle, drove down the road, flashing her headlights at one driver before passing him on the wrong side of the road, then slamming into Lacayo and Rosario, according to evidence presented by Assistant State’s Attorney Saman Danai.
Mate was traveling about 60 mph in an area where the speed limit was 30 mph, a police officer on the accident reconstruction team testified.
Lacayo was hit with such force that he was knocked out of his shoes. Rosario was dragged underneath Mate’s SUV for more than 100 feet, state witnesses testified.
When Mate’s vehicle — with Rosario’s body underneath it — was unable to move forward, she backed up, leaving Rosario’s broken body in the street, state witnesses testified.
Mate did not immediately respond to rescue workers who told her she needed to get out of her vehicle because she had been in a major accident, state witnesses testified. When she finally got out, she failed initial sobriety tests, such as trying to stand on one leg, which gave police the right to have her take a breath test or take blood from her state witnesses testified.
For two hours at the Beltsville police station, Mate simply did not provide a breath sample, two police witnesses testified. Finally, at 3 a.m. on Feb. 2, Mate provided a breath sample, which indicated her blood alcohol level was .15, nearly double Maryland’s legal limit of .08.
Police accident reconstruction experts testified that there were no skid marks from Mate’s SUV before or after she slammed into the victims, and data recorded from her vehicle also showed the brakes were not used.
“This was not an accident,” Danai said in his closing argument. “This was not negligence. This was manslaughter.”