Montgomery County Man not guilty of manslaughter in 2008 crash

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Maryland Community Newspapers Online
Wednesday, May 12, 2010

by Erin Donaghue | Staff Writer

 A Rockville resident was found guilty of manslaughter by motor vehicle in April in a 2008 car crash that killed a Montgomery Village woman.

Jeffrey Priscillano Samonte Nunez, 28, and Dexter Ingram, 24, of Washington, D.C., were found not guilty April 30 of racing their cars. Ingram was found not guilty of manslaughter by motor vehicle.

Nunez was driving north on Rockville Pike near White Flint mall Dec. 9, 2008, when his Honda Civic hit the median, went airborne, and landed on top of 18-year-old Ngoc Xuan Thi Lai’s 1995 Toyota Camry. Lai, a Montgomery Village resident and a recent Watkins Mill High School graduate, had been driving south on Rockville Pike. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Nunez was charged alongside Ingram, who was driving another car north on Rockville Pike at the time of the accident. According to court records, Ingram had switched into the left travel lane in front of Nunez, who lost control of his car.

Who was at fault for the accident remained at issue throughout the trial. Attorneys for Nunez argued that Ingram had cut off Nunez, causing the accident, according to court records.

Andrew Jezic, a lawyer for Ingram, said he argued that Nunez caused the crash. At trial, one expert estimated that Nunez had been travelling as fast as 67 mph on the road, which has a speed limit of 40 mph.

Ken West, an attorney for Nunez, did not return several calls for comment. West filed a motion May 10 with Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Nelson W. Rupp asking the judge to withdraw the verdict finding Nunez guilty of manslaughter, according to court documents.

In the motion, West argued because Nunez was found not guilty of drag racing, his speed alone was not enough to convict him of manslaughter. West also argued Ingram caused Nunez to lose control of the car.

Both Ingram and Nunez were indicted on charges of speed contest — or drag racing — in July 2009. Both men were found not guilty by a jury on that charge. Ingram also was indicted on charges of manslaughter by motor vehicle and was found not guilty. Ingram was found guilty of reckless driving and failure to remain at the scene of an accident resulting in bodily injury.

They are both scheduled to be sentenced July 20.

Jezic said his client was humbled by the verdict.

“I think the jury did the right thing. They were able to put aside the tragedy of this awful death and decide the case on the evidence.”



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