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Judge refuses to drop case against man in fatal Pa. crash

February 03, 2004|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A petition to dismiss the case against a Mont Alto, Pa., man charged in a fatal 2002 accident in Waynesboro, Pa., was denied Wednesday by Franklin County Judge Carol Van Horn.

Peter Matthew Shumway, 23, of 120 Reynolds Ave., is charged with accidents involving death or serious injury in the Nov. 1, 2002, accident in which a Crosswell, Tenn., woman was killed.

Shumway pleaded no contest to the charge last year, but Judge Douglas W. Herman refused to accept the plea agreement, which called for 90 days in jail followed by 90 days house arrest and probation, according to court records. A later attempt to get the plea agreement before Judge John R. Walker also fell through.

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When he rejected the plea on Oct. 1, 2003, Herman said he believed Shumway should be sentenced under a section of the law requiring a minimum of one year in prison because a death was involved.

Shumway's attorney, David S. Keller, last month petitioned the court to dismiss the third-degree felony charge, arguing his client had been in "substantial compliance" with the law that required him to provide information to police at the scene of the accident.

Shumway, formerly of 117 Garfield St., Waynesboro, was the driver of a Volkswagen Jetta that collided with a van at the intersection of Potomac and Main streets. A passenger in the van, 50-year-old Qiquang Dong, was killed in the 12:16 a.m. accident.

"When I arrived at the scene, ambulance personnel indicated the occupants of the car were leaving," Patrolman Andrew Zeigler testified at Monday's hearing.

Zeigler testified he yelled for the man and two women to come back and asked them to produce their driver's licenses and the registration and insurance for the car.

Zeigler testified he left to check on the occupants of the van and, when he returned a few minutes later, "the three subjects were down to two subjects."

One of the women, whom Zeigler testified was Shumway's girlfriend, gave him the vehicle registration and insurance card, but not a driver's license. The woman testified at Shumway's preliminary hearing last year that Shumway had given her the insurance and registration with instructions to give them to police.

Shumway did not contact police until about four hours later, according to testimony from William Kauffman, who was a corporal with the Waynesboro Police Department at the time.

According to the affidavit of probable cause, Shumway was at two Waynesboro-area bars before the crash, but was never tested for the presence of drugs or alcohol in his system.

Keller said Shumway complied with the law by handing over the information to his girlfriend and that he made no attempt to conceal his identity.

Assistant District Attorney T.R. Williams argued Shumway did not identify himself to police at the scene, never provided a driver's license and had "no meaningful contact with a police officer."

Williams said Shumway's compliance or noncompliance with the law "is a question for a jury to determine."

Shumway is scheduled for trial during the March term of court, according to the district attorney's office. After he was charged in 2003, he was released on bond, but appeared in court Monday in an orange prison jumpsuit.

Williams said Shumway had violated the terms of his pre-trial release, but did not know specifically what he had done to end up in jail.

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