A Northwest Washington man who struck two girls with a vehicle he was driving while drunk in September pleaded guilty Thursday to aggravated assault while armed and assault with a deadly weapon, prosecutors said.
Melvin Richardson, 36, of the 5000 block of 13th Street NW, faces up to 40 years in prison when he is sentenced March 13.
Prosecutors said he was driving a 1979 Ford pickup truck north on Illinois Avenue at Ingraham Street NW the evening of Sept. 27 when he struck the girls, who were crossing the street. He dragged one of them 400 yards before crashing into a parked car.
That girl, 7-year-old Erica Shaheed, of the 5300 block of Illinois Avenue NW, was taken to Children's Hospital in critical condition with massive head and facial injuries. The other girl, Janee Murphy, 13, of Upper Marlboro, was taken to the hospital for treatment of internal injuries that were not considered life-threatening.
Authorities said Richardson sped through the intersection without stopping. Janee was thrown across the intersection, and Erica became lodged under the truck, prosecutors said. Richardson continued to speed up, they said, and as he turned onto Jefferson Street NW, Erica was thrown from under the truck.
Prosecutors said Richardson has previous convictions for driving while impaired in the District and driving while intoxicated in Maryland. Three hours after he struck the girls, his blood alcohol level was measured at 0.22 percent, nearly three times the legal limit.
After the crash, politicians and residents called for increased traffic safety measures. Erica continues to undergo rehabilitation for her injuries, according to family members.