There was little uncertainty about the traffic accident that fatally injured Judith K. Misenti: It was all captured on film.
Yesterday, shortly after viewing a one-minute film clip of the Reston collision, Fairfax County General District Court Judge William Hammer found the driver of one of the cars in what was supposed to be a television production guilty of improper driving and fined him $100.
Carl B. Feldbaum, 38, whose car struck one driven by Misenti broadside during the production, was convicted after the judge reduced a charge of reckless driving, which carries more severe penalties, to the improper driving count.
"I think he's [Feldbaum] clearly negligent," Hammer said. "But I did not think it rose to the level of... indifference or wanton disregard of life," conditions required under Virginia law for conviction of reckless driving.
The judge described the accident as "a real tragedy".
Feldbaum and David Richard Lee, 25, were driving separate vehicles in the filming of a production for a martial arts promoter when the July 27 accident occurred near Wiehle Avenue and North Shore Drive, according to Chanda Myers, assistant commonwealth's attorney who prosecuted the case.
She told the court yesterday that the television production company, which was preparing a film for a Warner Cable TV show, never consulted with county police before filming the stunt.
The stunt was to have involved an intentional traffic altercation between Feldbaum and Lee. But during the second take, Feldbaum's car crashed into a third vehicle that had the right-of-way, police reports said.
That car was driven by Misenti, a 28-year-old North Haven, Conn., resident. She died two days later of injuries received in the accident.
Lee was found guilty of making an illegal left turn in the same accident and was fined $50 during a trial several weeks ago, Myers said.