District Woman Pleads Guilty to Involuntary Manslaughter In Traffic Fatality in Southwest


Maria N. Werts, 49, pled guilty May 21 to involuntary manslaughter and driving under the influence stemming from a traffic fatality where she struck and pinned a pedestrian to a tree, U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. announced in a statement.

Sentencing is scheduled for July 26, 2013. The plea agreement calls for Werts to serve a seven-year prison term for her offenses.

According to evidence, on April 28, 2013, Werts was drinking malt liquor and smoking crack cocaine immediately before getting behind the wheel of a 2010 Toyota Yaris. While driving on 1st Street SW, about 2:45 p.m., Werts ran a red light at the intersection of South Capitol Street making an illegal right turn on red. A southbound driver on South Capitol Street had to swerve to avoid colliding with Werts.

Werts lost control of the Toyota, mounted the sidewalk adjacent to the southbound lanes and struck Emmajean Gainey, 58, who was walking with another pedestrian. Werts struck Ms. Gainey head on and pinned her against a tree. Ms. Gainey was killed instantly.

Witnesses who saw Werts get out of the Toyota and attempt to leave the scene detained her until police arrived. She later admitted to drinking alcohol and smoking cocaine immediately prior to getting into the car. She denied driving the car, telling authorities that she was merely a passenger, though several eyewitnesses identified her as the driver responsible for Ms. Gainey’s death, according to Machen’s statement.

District Woman Pleads Guilty to Involuntary Manslaughter In Traffic Fatality in Southwest

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