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Probable cause found to allow charges against Hagerstown man in fatal motorcycle crash

Steven Edward Thompson is charged with driving under the influence causing death and leaving the scene of an accident with death

January 19, 2012|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthew.umstead@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Berkeley County Magistrate Joan V. Bragg found probable cause Thursday to allow felony charges against a Hagerstown man accused of fleeing the scene of a fatal motorcycle crash in April 2011 to be presented to a grand jury for possible indictment.

Steven Edward Thompson, 45, of 12202 Cedar Crest Ave., is charged with driving under the influence causing death and leaving the scene of an accident with death, according to court documents.

Lorena Beth "Lori" Roberts, 43, of Bunker Hill, W.Va., died at the scene of the April 14 crash in the 6500 block of Winchester Avenue (U.S. 11), according to police.

Roberts was riding on the motorcycle that Thompson was driving south at about 11 p.m. when it struck a utility pole and the rear of a parked white Ford F-150 pickup truck in the vicinity of Miss Bobbi's bar in Darkesville near Inwood, W.Va., according to police.

West Virginia state Trooper Matthew Gillmore testified Thursday that he determined through accident reconstruction that the motorcycle was traveling about 48 mph.

The speed limit in the vicinity of the crash is 40 mph, police testified.

Trooper J.A. Ware testified that Thompson was found a few hundred yards from the crash site in the yard of a residence off Sir Washington Street. With the assistance of a K9 unit, Thompson was found lying on his back with a motorcycle helmet beside him, Ware said.

Thompson had blood on his shirt, and Ware testified that "it looked like he was in considerable pain."

The concentration of alcohol in blood drawn from Thompson after the accident was determined to be 0.137, police said. The legal limit is .08.

Police testified Thursday that Thompson admitted after he was found that he had drinks and that he fled because he was scared.

Trooper P.L. North testified that the defendant indicated he had just picked the victim up from another bar.

The owner of Nan & Pop's Place in the 3400 block of Winchester Avenue told police that Thompson and Roberts had each consumed five drinks there earlier on the night of the crash, according to court documents. 

Aside from the three troopers, Bragg also heard testimony from lead investigating Trooper J.D. Schuessler and two patrons of Miss Bobbi's in a lengthy preliminary hearing Thursday afternoon that continued after the Berkeley County Judicial Center closed.

Misdemeanor charges that were pending in the case were dismissed by Berkeley County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Stephanie Saunders after Bragg made her ruling.

Thompson was represented in Thursday's hearing by defense attorney Kevin D. Mills.

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