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Pa. man won't serve time for accident that killed Amish girl

August 11, 1999|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Franklin County Judge John R. Walker warned Jason Scott Johnson Wednesday that any further traffic violations will land him in jail after the judge learned the Orrstown, Pa., man has gotten two tickets since a 1997 accident that killed an Amish girl.

"You sure haven't learned a damn thing. ... It's almost like spitting in my face," Walker told Johnson.

He said he had considered rejecting Johnson's plea agreement, but he did not.

"The court was real upset when it read this pre-sentence report," Walker told Johnson, 21, when he sentenced him to five years on probation and a $1,000 fine for involuntary homicide in the Oct. 27, 1997, death of Bena Mae Stoltzfus of Orrstown.

Johnson had pleaded no contest to the charge June 21 with the understanding that he would not go to prison.

Walker was angered to learn Johnson, of 11400 Scotland Drive, was charged with racing on highways on Dec. 27, 1997. On March 24, 1998, he was charged with driving with a suspended license, according to court records.

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Defense attorney David S. Keller said Johnson got the racing on highways citation when he and another driver were revving their engines in Chambersburg. After the hearing, Keller said both citations were issued before Johnson was formally charged in the accident in which Stoltzfus, 6, was killed.

District Attorney John F. Nelson asked Walker to make obeying traffic laws a condition of Johnson's probation. The judge agreed and told Johnson he should "be like the tortoise going down the road."

When the plea was accepted, Nelson said it would have been a difficult case to try because of conflicting evidence about how fast Johnson was traveling when his 1993 Ford Mustang crested a hill and struck the back of a pony cart on Pa. 641 in Lurgan Township.

Bena Mae, her brother Benjamin and sister Miriam were thrown from the cart. The brother and sister received minor injuries, according to Pennsylvania State Police records.

The Stoltzfus family declined to participate in any prosecution of Johnson because of their religious beliefs, Keller said in June.

"I just want everyone to know there is remorse," Johnson said.

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