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Man placed on home confinement in connection with 2010 crash that killed Hagerstown woman

December 10, 2012|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthewu@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A man who pleaded guilty to misdemeanor counts of negligent homicide and driving under the influence in the March 2010 vehicle crash that killed a Hagerstown woman was placed on home confinement for 18 months Monday.

Jeffrey Wayne McKinney, 40, was ordered by 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge Gray Silver III to serve four weekends in jail as a condition of his home confinement.

The home confinement replaced consecutive one-year and six-month jail sentences for the misdemeanor convictions, as part of a plea agreement that was reached in September.

McKinney, who resides in the Frederick, Md., area, according to his attorney, was indicted in May 2010 on single counts of driving under the influence causing death, a felony, and failure to yield in a March 18, 2010, crash that claimed the life of Mary F. Punt, 57.

Police have said McKinney admitted to drinking five or six beers the night of the head-on collision that occurred at about 11:30 p.m. at the intersection of U.S. 11 and Berkeley Station Road.

While McKinney was not injured in the crash, Punt, who was northbound on U.S. 11, died at the scene, police said.

The plea came about as a result of some improper procedures by an investigating officer and that contributed to admissibility issues for other officers who relied on the initial work, Berkeley County Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Games-Neely said previously.

As a result of those errors, the results of two of three field sobriety tests conducted by a Berkeley County Sheriff’s deputy were determined to be inadmissible, according to Berkeley County Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Games-Neely and court records.

The plea agreement between Games-Neely and McKinney’s attorney, Harley O. Wagner, was reached in September just before his trial was to begin, Silver noted.

About 60 prospective jurors had assembled for the trial and the court had set aside two weeks for what was anticipated to be a lengthy and costly proceeding, Silver said at Monday’s sentencing hearing.

“This obviously is a very serious case, also a very sad case for the victim’s family members,” Silver said.

After ruling on the evidentiary issues prior to the scheduled trial, Silver said it became clear to the court that the jury could have returned with a number of possible verdicts, which led to the plea agreement.

Wagner told the court that McKinney would serve his first weekend in jail the evening of Jan. 11 and then three subsequent weekends.

Games-Neely said after Monday’s hearing that the defendant’s home confinement was to begin Monday.

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