Monday, June 1, 2015

Cops: Warminster woman was drinking wine, taking Rx before double fatal

Posted: Thursday, May 21, 2015

A 28-year-old Warminster mother of two was drinking wine after taking legally prescribed drugs that interact with alcohol as she sped along Street Road before she was involved in a three-car accident that killed a Falls couple, police said.

Lower Southampton police allege they found three empty plastic bottles and a full bottle of Sutter Home wine inside the 2004 Chevy Suburban that Kerri Millard was driving after it was involved in the head-on collision March 19.
Sharon Vince, 64, and her friend Charles Rishel, 79, — who family members said were driving home from church — died as a result of the injuries they sustained in the accident.
On Thursday, Millard was arraigned before District Judge John Waltman on two counts each of homicide by vehicle and homicide by vehicle while DUI and related offenses, including six counts of reckless endangering stemming from the crash. If convicted of homicide by vehicle while DUI, she faces a mandatory minimum three-year prison sentence.
Blood tests taken after the fatal accident found Millard’s alcohol level was .083, which is slightly above the .08 legal limit for driving in Pennsylvania, plus she tested positive for four legally prescribed medications for treating anxiety, depression and alcohol dependence, according to a probable cause affidavit.
Kerri Millard
The drugs in Millard’s system — including bupropion and topiramate — shouldn’t be mixed with alcohol, according to online drug resources.
Millard, a mother of two children under age 6, had a previous DUI arrest in 2008 that was expunged after she successfully completed a probation program for first-time nonviolent offenders.
She broke down crying during the arraignment, sobbing softly while friends and family members sat in the court galley — along with family members and friends of Vince and Rishel.
The fatal crash has left the mother of a 2- and 5-year-old “completely devastated,” said attorney Blake Jackman, who represented Millard at the arraignment.
“She remains paralyzed by grief and sends her heartfelt condolences to the families who’ve lost their loved ones,” he said.
Lower Southampton police allege Millard was driving west on Street Road shortly before 8 p.m. when she left the right lane and hit the curb. She continued driving along the shoulder and grassy roadside until she hit another curb and a concrete block, court documents allege.
The SUV then veered left, crossing both westbound lanes and a concrete divider and entering one of the eastbound lanes of Street Road, near Philmont Avenue and Old Street Road, where she crashed into the 2002 Honda Accord that Vince was driving. Rishel was her front-seat passenger.
The force of the collision caused the Accord to rotate clockwise and strike a Toyota Sequoia traveling in the outside eastbound lane of Street Road. None of the four people in the Toyota was hurt. The Accord and Suburban ended up on an embankment.
Millard had to be extricated from her vehicle, police said. An officer reported the odor of alcohol on her breath and bloodshot eyes.
She admitted drinking “multiple” small bottles of wine in the time leading up to the crash, according to the affidavit, which stated that she also told police she had taken several legally prescribed medications before the accident.
An accident investigation by the Bucks County Vehicular Crimes Task Force determined Millard was driving at 62 mph seconds before the accident. The posted speed limit on that portion of Street Road is 45 mph.
At Millard’s arraignment, Jackman argued for unsecured bail or what he called a reasonable monetary bail of no more than 10 percent of $75,000, which he said her family could post.
Kerri Millard
Millard is not a flight risk, Jackman said, adding that she hasn’t touched alcohol or taken her prescribed medication since the accident. He said she’s also receiving treatment for substance abuse.
“It’s clear if there was any time she’d be a flight risk, it was before today,” Jackman said. “Punishing her on the front end is not what bail is for.”
Assistant District Attorney Greg Shore countered that Millard’s previous arrest for DUI didn’t stop her from committing the crime again.
“And here we are again with two dead bodies,” he said. “Put bluntly, this is not about punishments. It’s about protecting the community. She was literally drinking and driving.”
Waltman agreed with the prosecution and set Millard’s bail at 10 percent of $200,000. She was taken to Bucks County prison after the hearing.
Outside the courtroom, Jackman said that he plans to file paperwork seeking a bail reduction at Bucks County Court on Friday.

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