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This is very similar to the 'punishment' meted out to the elderly woman who killed a cyclist near Johns Hopkins University in 2010. The minimal fine is bad enough, but no points on the driving record? If she would have fired a gun accidentally and killed Ms. Whitman, Ms. Simmons would likely be facing years in jail. Sad.

Just remember.... this is a judicial criminal finding that can subsequently be used (and not denied) in a civil court action. The fine may be $400. But if there is a civil action, the settlement will be more.

I agree with PghSteve, this minimal punishment is depressing. The punishment does not fit the crime in my opinion.

Does the recent vulnerable user vehicular homicide law not apply is this case? If not, why not?

@Wilbur "But if there is a civil action, the settlement will be more." The woman is dead what good does a civil action that might be won do her?

I suppose that's one case where he three foot rule can be enforced -- when there's zero foot separation. Not sure about other cases.

@David: If I'm run over by a negligent driver, I want justice and compensation for my family. That does me some good.

This is the kind of thing that demands a letter to the county prosecutor and the MD Attorney-General.

Anyone know what county this is?

Wilbur: yes, there can be a civil trial, but the criminal trial is also supposed to reflect the seriousness of the incident. In what other situation can you kill someone and get off with less than $500?

@SJE I agree. It looks like the prosecutor accepted a plea deal on this, maybe because of lack of prrof or a weak case, and knowing that the conviction will help plaintiffs in their civil case. Prosecutor certainly conferred with survivors before agreeing to this, and they may have agreed.

On a somewhat related note, I just saw these interesting graphs from Steven Pinker's book about the decline of violence.

http://www.thegatesnotes.com/Personal/Better-Angels-of-Our-Nature-in-Graphs-and-Numbers

Haven't read the book, but it seems his point is violence decreases in response to acknowledgment of the rights of others, and does so remarkably quickly(50% in a generation). This gave me a lot of hope this morning---let's keep up the good work!

@xmal

I forget the source, but I have seen an argument made that crime, esp. violent crime, bears a strong relation to the proportion of young people in a population, particularly the 15-25 year old group. Just an alternative approach... but it also makes sense that tolerance should reduce violence.

https://www.facebook.com/heather.simmons.52035

It appears she just gave birth. She doesn't deserve to be happy! Fortunately for her, her mother can enjoy her grandchild. Diane no longer gets to spend time with hers. Must be nice to pay $400 and get on with life. I strongly encourage the family of Diane to pursue a civil suit.

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