Man convicted in fatal D.C. crash

By Keith L. Alexander
Saturday, January 8, 2011

Ajene Jones told a D.C. Superior Court judge Friday that he remembered helping a friend move to Waldorf on April 19. He also remembered buying PCP-laced cigarettes with that friend.

But Jones, 35, said he did not remember getting behind the wheel of his Dodge Ram that evening and driving southbound on Alabama Avenue SE. Authorities said his van crossed the center line and slammed Mary Wimbush's Toyota Camry as she was driving with her four young children.

The next thing Jones said he remembered was waking up in the back of an ambulance. Prosecutors say Jones was high on PCP when he slammed his truck into Wimbush's car, killing the 37-year-old wife and mother and injuring her children, now 2, 6, 8 and 11.

Authorities said Jones was traveling 52 mph in a 25-mph zone. The force of the impact, said Assistant U.S. Attorney John Soroka, rotated Wimbush's car 180 degrees. Soroka said it took EMS workers 45 minutes to remove Wimbush from the vehicle.

At a hearing before Judge Thomas Motley on Friday, Jones was convicted on one count of manslaughter and two counts of aggravated assault. The conviction came in an Alford plea, in which a defendant does not admit guilt but acknowledges that the government has enough evidence to convict him.

In exchange, prosecutors agreed to drop several other charges and agreed not to seek more than 20 years imprisonment.

Soroka said Jones tested positive for PCP and prosecutors charged him with seven counts, including second-degree murder, aggravated assault and driving while intoxicated.

Jones, of Northeast Washington, was also charged with driving on a suspended license, stemming from a previous violation for driving while intoxicated on a suspended license.

Jones said he did not remember striking Wimbush's vehicle. "I remember helping a friend earlier that day, confiscating drugs and waking up in an ambulance. That's all I remember," Jones said.

The judge reminded Jones that although the government agreed not to seek more than 20 years as a maximum, he could sentence Jones outside of the plea agreement to as many as 50 years in prison based on the manslaughter and aggravated-assault charges.

After the hearing, Wimbush's sister, Edna Garrick, said she thought that 20 years was "not enough" and she hoped Motley sentences Jones to more time. Jones is scheduled to be sentenced March 11.

© 2011 The Washington Post Company