Former Reinholds woman gets four to 15 years in prison for killing one, injuring one in DUI crash

By on October 26, 2016

A former Reinholds woman found guilty of driving drunk in a 2014 car crash that killed one person while severely injuring another was sentenced to prison Oct. 20.

Patricia J. Halgash, 43, Land-O-Lakes, Fla., was ordered to serve four years and three days to 15 years in a state prison.

A jury found Halgash guilty of homicide by vehicle, homicide by vehicle while DUI, aggravated assault by vehicle, DUI and disregard for traffic lanes in July.

Sharon Mulhatten, 71, Lancaster, was killed in the March 13, 2014 accident on Old Philadelphia Pike. Her son, Troy Mulhatten, Ronks, was seriously injured.

In a nearly 10-minute statement, Halgash continually fought back tears as she said she “failed to make a sound judgment that night” and has struggled to get past the pain of her actions, at one time referring to herself as being in an “emotional prison.”

Halgash said she has failed herself, her family and “grossly failed the Mulhattens.”

“Never did I ever think I would be responsible for taking someone else’s life,” she said. “All I’ve ever wanted to do was help.”

Around two dozen friends and family were present in the Lancaster County Courthouse courtroom, showing support for Halgash.

She faced a mandatory minimum three-year prison sentence due to the nature of the DUI-related vehicular homicide charge. Her attorney, Anthony Voci Jr., as well as friends and family who spoke on her behalf, pushed for the minimum sentence.

However, prosecutor Maria Cusick noted the seriousness of the charge and how her sentence needed to show the community that this is a crime that will not be tolerated in Lancaster County.

Cusick also pointed out that it was proven that Halgash lied on the witness stand when she testified that she was distracted by a buzzing phone in her purse at the time of the accident. That was disproved at trial with phone records.

During his sentencing statement, Judge Jeffery Wright pointed out the lie as well.

Wright also chastised Halgash for saying that covering her mouth to officers at the scene was something she does when she is nervous and was not done to cover the scent of alcohol on her breath.

In something as nerve-wracking as a homicide trial, Halgash had failed to cover her mouth the entire time, Wright said.

He pointed out how Halgash expected the court to believe that she had not taken prescribed pain medication the day of the accident, when she had refilled the prescription containing 90 pills at least 25 times.

And Wright referred to her behavior following the accident as “callous” when she failed to call police, expecting others to do so, and for not helping more as the Mulhattens lay dying and injured.

“Rarely have I seen conduct more callous than that,” Wright said.

Wright noted that the punishment could have been more severe if it weren’t for the outpouring of support he received from her friends and family. He received 32 letters of support, he said.

Jonas Fortune is a staff writer at LNP.

 

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