Causing fatal accident ruled a misdemeanor

POSTED: 02/7/13 1:03 PM

St. Maarten – For causing an accident on March 21 of last year that cost 23-year-old Gendrick Reid his life, the Court in First Instance sentenced Cynthia Agatha F.-R. yesterday to a conditional prison sentence of 30 days and 60 hours of community service. The court also conditionally revoked her driver’s license for 12 months and imposed 3 years of probation.

The 59-year-old defendant was on her way home from a prayer meeting, driving at a speed of 30 kilometers per hour on Coralita Road where the victim was walking with a friend. The car hit Reid from behind; he hit the windshield with his head and was catapulted over the car’s roof into the ditch next to the road. He broke his neck, hit the water unconscious and drowned.

The court acquitted the defendant of the criminal charge of reckless driving and of leaving the place of an accident, but sentenced her for careless driving – a misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of 30 days imprisonment.

“The defendant behaved in such a way that she put road safety at risk; she was familiar with the road, there was no other traffic and the road was free and clear. However, the defendant did not see Reid who was walking on the right hand side of the road and she did not change course to avoid him. As a result she hit Reid and this cost him his life,” the court ruled.

The court rejected defense arguments by attorney Jason Rogers that it was possible that one of the pedestrians had thrown a stone against the defendant’s windshield and that this had caused her to drive briefly off the road.

At the trial on January 16, prosecutor Dounia Benammar demanded an 8-month conditional prison sentence, 150 hours of community service, and 2 years of probation. The prosecutor also demanded that the defendant’s driver’s license be revoked for 2 years, with one year of this term suspended.

mr. Benammar noted that the defendant did not show any remorse and that it had taken her a long time to compensate the family for the funeral costs.

The court wrote in its ruling that “no punishment will be able to diminish the victim’s family with their sorrow. Looking for a fitting reaction a balance needs to be found that does justice to the disaster this has created and that takes into account that the defendant did not want these consequences. The proven charge is a misdemeanor that carries a maximum prison sentence of 30 days.”

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