A Mount Joy woman will be tried on two counts of third-degree murder and related charges for causing a vehicle crash that killed two local students, a district judge ordered Monday afternoon.
Debra Slaymaker-Walker, 63, will face the murder charges and a number of other counts, including vehicular homicide and aggravated assault regarding the Oct. 26 crash on West Orange Street (Route 772), a short distance from Warwick High School in Lititz.
Two Warwick students, a boy and girl, ages 16 and 17 respectively, were killed when their vehicle was struck by Slaymaker-Walker’s Kia SUV. The SUV had struck several other vehicles while illegally passing a slow-moving line of vehicles – just after Warwick students were dismissed for the day.
At a preliminary hearing Monday, Assistant District Attorney Jared Hinsey called three police investigators to testify regarding what led to the crash and the devastation it caused.
District Judge Edward Tobin determined enough evidence was presented to bound all charges to Lancaster County Court. A formal arraignment is scheduled for Feb. 22 when the case will essentially be transferred to the county level pending disposition.
Slaymaker-Walker remains under house arrest on $1 million unsecured bail and restrictions per Lancaster County bail administration officials.
She is presumed innocent.
Testifying Monday were:
- Northern Lancaster County Regional police Officer Alex Good who encountered Slaymaker-Walker’s Kia SUV. She fled his attempt to stop her about a mile west on Route 772. The SUV struck a school bus (no one inside was hurt) and continued into Lititz.
- Lititz police Sgt. Jared Hahn whose cruiser was nearly struck by the SUV as it sped into the borough, not far from the crash site. Sgt. Hahn filed charges.
- Northern Lancaster County Regional police Sgt. Rodney King who performed a forensic reconstruction of the crash and determined the SUV’s speed to be between 73 and 77 mph leading up to the impact. The area was a posted 25-mph zone.
Seargeant King’s investigation also showed the SUV steered toward the Chevy Sonic – containing the students - just prior to impact. Police found nothing to indicate Slaymaker-Walker attempted to brake prior to the collisions.
The murder charges are based on: Slaymaker-Walker’s gross neglect and disregard of the extreme risk to others she posed to others by her repeated and sustained reckless driving, and additionally, by traveling at such an extreme speed when numerous other vehicles were in the crash area.
In all, Slaymaker-Walker is charged with:
- Third-degree murder (two counts)
- Homicide by vehicle (two counts)
- Involuntary manslaughter (two counts)
- Aggravated assault (for a third student, seriously injured, while an occupant of the Chevy Sonic)
- Aggravated assault by vehicle (for that same student)
- Simple assault (for another motorist injured)
- Hit and run (for the crash with the school bus)
- Fleeing police
- Reckless endangerment
- Summary counts of speeding, reckless driving,
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