No charges filed vs. city woman in fatal accident

Posted: April 23, 2013

The Winchester Star

WINCHESTER — The Frederick County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office has stated that no charges will be filed against a local woman who struck and killed a local homeless man with her car Feb. 10 on North Frederick Pike (U.S. 522).

According to a Monday media release, there is no evidence upon which to base any criminal or traffic charges against attorney Catherine McLoughlin Terzian, 35, of Winchester — who struck Gary Wayne Baker, 42, also of the city.

The decision came after a “comprehensive investigation” conducted by the Virginia State Police and other law enforcement agencies over a two-month period.

The details surrounding the crash are still not completely clear.

The release states that at about 7:15 p.m., Baker was observed by a witness walking in the road on North Frederick Pike, in the vicinity of Fortress Drive.

According to the witness, Baker was wearing dark clothing and was difficult to see in the dark.

Terzian struck the man in her 2003 Subaru station wagon about 15 minutes later, near the intersection of North Frederick Pike and Paw Paw Court.

Baker was pronounced dead at the scene.

It was originally reported in a search warrant filed Feb. 12 that Baker was walking along the shoulder of North Frederick Pike when Terzian hit him.

In an interview with police, she stated that she knew her car struck something and that her windshield broke, “but was confused or provided inconsistent answers [in] reference to details of the crash,” according to the same warrant.

Those details include the time the crash occurred, whether she made a call to emergency services and her vehicle position in the road.

Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Andrew M. Robbins said that the witness did not surface until after the night of the wreck.

He said the witness’ account of what happened that night was their best evidence, and that he didn’t know exactly where Baker was in the road when Terzian struck him.

“She did not leave the roadway in any significant degree,” he said.

He also said speed was not a factor in the crash and that evidence showed Terzian had not been using her cellphone in any way prior to the wreck.

The release states that Terzian remained at the scene as required by law, and cooperated in the investigation.

She also voluntarily submitted to a blood test, which according to the press release revealed no intoxicating substances in her system.

An investigation by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner classified the manner of Baker’s death as accidental and identified the cause of death to be blunt force trauma to the head, chest and lower extremities.

Baker’s blood-alcohol concentration was found to be 0.07 percent — which is under the legal limit of 0.08 percent to drive in Virginia.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Ross Spicer said that the case was handled like any other and that no special considerations were made in the investigation. (Terzian is related to one of the assistant commonwealth’s attorneys.)

“He was specifically and intentionally excluded [from input in the case],” Spicer said of Terzian’s relative.

Trooper J.M. Myers investigated the crash, along with assistance from the State Police crash reconstruction team.

— Contact Melissa Boughton at mboughton@winchesterstar.com