Md. driver sentenced to year in jail in crash that killed Green Party candidate

August 3, 2012

An Upper Marlboro woman was sentenced Friday to a year in jail in the 2010 hit-and-run crash that killed a Green Party candidate for U.S. Senate out for an early-morning bike ride.

As family members from both sides watched, Christy Littleford, 43, was taken out of a Prince George’s County Circuit courtroom in handcuffs, her sentence slated to begin immediately. Minutes earlier, her family members and friends tearfully pleaded that Judge John Davey look on her with mercy, arguing that she did not mean to hit 30-year-old Natasha Pettigrew.

In the same courtroom, Pettigrew’s family stressed the life that was lost. While Littleford would one day get out of jail, they said, they will never get to see Pettigrew finish law school, marry or have children.

“There’s nothing I can do to replace that void in my heart,” said Kenniss Henry, Pettigrew’s mother. “Every day I live, I can’t get around it, because I wake up minus my daughter.”

Prosecutors had asked that Littleford, who was convicted in May of failing to remain at the scene of an accident involving a death, along with other counts, be sentenced, effectively, to five years in prison. Assistant State’s Attorney Kirstin Statesman argued that after Littleford hit Pettigrew in September 2010, she dragged the third-year law student and Green Party candidate’s bike nearly three miles from the scene of the crash on Route 202 to her home nearby. Littleford never called 911, Statesman said, instead returning to the scene and going to the hospital before reporting the incident at a Prince George’s police station.


Natasha Pettigrew (Courtesy of Maryland Green Party)

“This conduct was egregious,” Statesman said.

Joseph Vallario, Littleford’s attorney, asked the judge to impose only probation and heavy fines, arguing that the crash was an accident and that his client did not know what she had struck. He said that after Littleford’s husband discovered the bike underneath her sport-utility vehicle, the family did “what they thought was the right thing to do.”

Speaking briefly on her own behalf, Littleford apologized to Pettigrew’s family. “I, too, suffer every single day,” she said.

“I don’t sleep. I don’t eat. My life is just upside down right now,” she said.

Davey, the judge, ultimately delivered the year-long sentence, along with fines and probation, predicting it would make neither side happy. He said that he believed Littleford did not intend to hit Pettigrew — and noted there was no evidence of drug or alcohol use — but said he found it “hard to believe” she did not realize she was dragging a bike. Maryland sentencing guidelines called for a term between four months and four years, Davey said.

After the hearing, Henry, who had left the courtroom during the defendant’s testimony, approached Littleford’s family members and told them she was “so sorry for your loss.” She said afterward that there were no winners.

“No amount of time will ever be enough,” Henry said. “I’ve lost my daughter for forever.”

Matt Zapotosky covers the federal district courthouse in Alexandria, where he tries to break news from a windowless office in which he is not allowed to bring his cell phone.
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