Former Reinholds woman found guilty of DUI-related vehicular homicide

By on July 20, 2016

 

A former Reinholds woman was found guilty July 14 of driving drunk in a 2014 car crash that killed a Lancaster woman and severely injured her son.

Patricia J. Halgash

Patricia J. Halgash

Patricia J. Halgash, 43, Land O’ Lakes, Fla., sat stoic as the 12-person jury read the verdict in Judge Jeffery D. Wright’s courtroom at the Lancaster County Courthouse.

Following the verdict, she mouthed “I love you” to family and friends before being handcuffed and taken into custody on $500,000 bail.

She faces a mandatory minimum three-year prison sentence due to the nature of the DUI-related vehicular homicide charge.

Sentencing will take place within 60 days, following a pre-sentencing investigation, Judge Wright said.

Halgash was found guilty of two second-degree felony charges of homicide by vehicle while DUI and aggravated assault by vehicle while DUI; as well as two third-degree felony charges of homicide by vehicle and aggravated assault by vehicle.

A second-degree felony carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and/or a $25,000 fine. The maximum sentence for a third-degree felony is seven years in prison and/or a $15,000 fine.

Sharon Mulhatten, 71, died following the March 13, 2014, crash on Old Philadelphia Pike in East Lampeter Township. Her son, Troy Mulhatten, Ronks, was severely injured.

Troy Mulhatten testified to the extent of his injuries July 11.

Halgash spent nearly four hours drinking with a friend at the The Brasserie Restaurant & Bar, 1679 Lincoln Highway East, that night before getting into a Mercedes C300 around 8 p.m. and attempting to drive home, according to testimony in the trial.

The defense never disputed the fact that Halgash caused the accident around 8:20 p.m. on Old Philadelphia Pike and Chateau Hill by crossing over the double yellow line and hitting the Mulhatten’s 1978 Chevrolet Caprice nearly head on.

They did dispute how much alcohol she had.

On July 12, East Lampeter Township police Sgt. Randy Shrom testified Halgash was never tested to see how much alcohol was in her system following the crash.

Forensic pathologists spent July 13 flexing their scentific calculations in an attempt to determine what Halgash’s blood-alcohol level could have been before Halgash herself admitted to drinking.

Halgash drank three Troeg’s Nugget Nectar beers but purchased five, she said during Wednesday afternoon testimony.

Her receipt showed she purchased six, according to testimony from a Brasserie employee.

During her closing statements, prosecutor Maria Cusick said they didn’t need a blood-alcohol content “number” to determine the sobriety of Halgash that night. It’s only a “tool” to help aide in a decision, she said.

“We have a crash scene to show she was incapable of safe driving,” she said.

It took the jury nearly five hours to side with her argument, with the verdict coming down around 4:15 p.m.

The case was handed to jurors at 11:29 a.m.

“We appreciate the jury’s careful consideration of the evidence that proved the defendant’s intoxication without having a blood-alcohol reading,” the district attorney’s office said in a statement.

“It was a very thorough and diligent investigation by East Lampeter police, who accurately identified what led to this devastating crash.”

Halgash was charged for the crime on Aug. 20, 2015, more than 17 months following the incident.

She has since moved to Florida.

“She is going to Lancaster County Prison. We are going to try to make the arrangements to get her out on bail pending sentencing,” her defense attorney Anthony Voci Jr. said following the hearing.

The Halgash family declined comment.

Jonas Fortune is a staff writer at LNP.

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