A 56-year-old Mount Vernon man whose car, police said, crashed into an oncoming car during a high-speed chase on the George Washington Parkway in June was charged yesterday with murdering Margaret Jacobsen Haley, the mother of 11 children who was killed in the accident.
Tests performed on David Earl Fleming, who suffered multiple broken bones in the crash, indicated his blood contained .315 percent alcohol, more than three times the level establishing intoxication under Virginia law, Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Cynkar said.
Fleming, an unemployed carpenter, led police on a 100-mph chase along the parkway the afternoon of June 15 before his car hit a Subaru driven by Haley, 55, a Mount Vernon area resident, according to court papers filed in federal court in Alexandria. Fleming has been charged with second degree murder and faces up to life in prison if he is convicted.
U.S. marshals arrested Fleming yesterday morning as he checked out of Mount Vernon Hospital where he was recuperating from injuries suffered in the crash. Appearing in court in a wheelchair, he told U.S. Magistrate W. Harris Grimsley, "I was permanently crippled in both legs as a result of the accident."
Grimsley set bond at $5,000 and released Fleming under the supervision of his mother, Eva M. Coffman, with whom he lives. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Sept. 28.
Cynkar said Fleming had three prior convictions for drunk driving and that his operator's license had been revoked after a 1974 conviction in Alexandria and never reinstated. In court yesterday, Fleming maintained that one of the convictions was for being intoxicated, not for driving while intoxicated.
Fleming's mother told Grimsley her son had gone out and bought a container of orange juice and a pint of vodka the morning of the crash and brought them back to the house. "I said to him, 'David, you know you shouldn't do that. You know you can't handle that stuff,' " Coffman said.
Fleming later appeared in his mother's living room with a drink in his hand and said he was going out, Coffman said.
A U.S. Park Police patrol car spotted Fleming's Chevrolet Camaro traveling south on the parkway at speeds between 85 and 90 mph at about 3:30 p.m. on June 15, court papers said, and a chase ensued at speeds up to 100 mph.
When Fleming reached a bend in the road just beyond Little Hunting Creek known as "Dead Man's Curve," court papers said, the Camaro slid into the northbound lanes and struck Haley's car.