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Woman accused in man's death has hearing delayed

June 20, 2007|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A woman charged in the death of a man killed when the car she was driving was struck by a train had her preliminary hearing continued Tuesday in Franklin County Central Court.

Helen Louise Gordon, 45, of 5128 Wright Road in Fayetteville, Pa., is charged with homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence, second offense driving under the influence, driving under the influence with a blood alcohol level above 0.08 percent and careless driving and obedience to signals indicating an approaching train in the Dec. 8, 2006, accident in which her passenger, Kevin L. Taylor, was killed.

"I have serious concerns about her competency and ability to participate in her own defense," Assistant Public Defender Kevin Chernosky said. The continuance to Aug. 21 was to allow time for an evaluation to determine if she is competent to stand trial, he said.

Taylor, 37, of 550 S. Main St. in Chambersburg, was pronounced dead at the scene of the 6:16 p.m. accident at the railroad crossing east of U.S. 11 on Pa. 914 near Marion, Pa. Pennsylvania State Police said the 1992 Dodge Spirit that Gordon was driving was struck on the passenger's side by a southbound Norfolk Southern train.

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Taylor was thrown from the vehicle by the impact, police said. Gordon was flown to York (Pa.) Hospital, police said.

Several beer cans were found in and around the car, police said.

Gordon's blood alcohol level was measured within two hours of the accident at 0.098 percent, according to police. A level of 0.08 percent is the legal limit for intoxication in Pennsylvania.

Gordon spent two months in the hospital recovering from her injuries, Chernosky said. The injuries that Gordon sustained in the accident could have affected her competency to stand trial at this time, he said.

A conviction for homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence carries a mandatory minimum sentence of three years in state prison in Pennsylvania.

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