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Pa. man sentenced in fatal 2002 crash

February 12, 2004|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - After two previous attempts at entering a plea agreement fell through, a Franklin County judge Wednesday sentenced a Mont Alto, Pa., man charged in a 2002 fatal accident.

Peter Matthew Shumway, 23, of 120 Reynolds Ave., was sentenced by Judge Carol Van Horn to four months in the county prison, four months of house arrest and four months of intense supervision. Shumway will then be on parole for 11 months, followed by five years on probation, according to Van Horn's order.

Shumway was charged with leaving the scene of an accident involving death or serious injury in a Nov. 1, 2002, crash that killed Qiquang Dong, 50, of Crosswell, Tenn. On Wednesday, he pleaded no contest to the third-degree felony.

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A no-contest plea means the defendant is not admitting guilt, but is stating he will offer no defense.

"For a year of your life, you're going to be under intense scrutiny," Van Horn said. She fined him $1,000 and gave him credit for time served since Feb. 1, when he was jailed for violating conditions of his pre-trial release.

Because a death occurred, Van Horn said the law requires a 12-month minimum sentence, but she was satisfied he will spend a year "under other methods of restrictive punishment."

Shumway agreed to plead no contest last year, but on Oct. 1 Judge Douglas W. Herman rejected the plea, which called for him to spend 90 days in jail and 90 days under house arrest. Herman said there was evidence Shumway was drinking and left the scene to "conceal evidence of a crime."

Judge John R. Walker later declined to accept the plea, Assistant District Attorney T.R. Williams said.

Waynesboro, Pa., police, said Shumway drove through a flashing red traffic light at the intersection of South Potomac and Main streets, hitting a van in which Dong was a passenger.

At a hearing last week, Patrolman Andrew Zeigler testified he saw Shumway and two women leaving the scene when he arrived. Zeigler testified he ordered them back, told them to produce identification, then left them to check on the van's occupants.

When he returned minutes later, Zeigler testified Shumway was gone, but left the car registration and insurance card with one of the women. Shumway did not contact police for several hours, according to police.

Last week's hearing was on a motion to dismiss the charge filed by defense attorney David S. Keller.

After the sentencing, Williams said Shumway was never tested to determine if he was under the influence of alcohol. The police affidavit stated he had been at two bars prior to the accident.

Williams said there was not enough evidence to charge Shumway with vehicular homicide. While Shumway was negligent, "you have to be criminally negligent, which is a pretty high standard," Williams said.

The investigation showed Shumway was speeding, but the low range of his estimated speed "was in single digits above the speed limit," Williams said.

In the absence of evidence of intoxication or criminal negligence, Williams said leaving the scene was the most serious charge police could file against Shumway.

"There were risks for both sides," Keller said. His client could have faced up to seven years in prison if convicted in a trial, but a jury could have found he complied with the law by providing information to police, Keller said.

No members of the victim's family attended the sentencing. Williams said he was unsuccessful in attempts to reach the family's attorney.

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