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Woman gets probation for DUI

Cleared of manslaughter in a fatal 2002 crash, she still faces two more charges in an unrelated case.

By Times Staff Writer
Published January 20, 2006

INVERNESS - Kelly Ann McDonald will serve a year of probation for DUI, a judge ruled Thursday afternoon.

McDonald, 35, stood trial last week on charges of DUI-manslaughter and DUI with serious bodily injury. She was charged in the 2002 fatal vehicle accident that killed Tim Parker, 43, and injured his passenger, Chris Snetzko, then 21.

The jury found McDonald guilty of lesser charges: two counts of DUI.

McDonald has spent four months in county jail while the case was pending. That time will be considered part of her sentence.

The defense team conceded that McDonald was driving under the influence of alcohol the morning of the crash, but it argued at trial that McDonald did not cause the accident, which happened on County Road 486 outside Crystal River.

Prosecutors argued that McDonald's 1997 Ford Explorer crossed the center line and collided with Parker's GMC Sierra. But the defense said the accident could not have happened that way. Hampering the state's case was the lack of photographs from the accident scene; sheriff's officials mistakenly destroyed them.

Circuit Judge Ric Howard presided over the trial. He imposed the sentence during a hearing Thursday afternoon in his courtroom.

McDonald still faces two more charges in an unrelated case: acquiring or attempting to acquire a controlled substance by fraud and withholding information for the purpose of obtaining a prescription.

With the agreement of the defense and prosecution, Howard allowed McDonald to try to resolve those charges through the drug court program, which helps participants get intensive treatment.

"Drug court's tough, Kelly, you understand that?" the judge asked at one point. McDonald said she understood.

A hearing in drug court is set for 10 a.m. Wednesday in front of Circuit Judge Barbara Gurrola. If McDonald cannot get a spot in the drug court program, she will be back in front of Howard for a status conference Feb. 13.

[Last modified January 20, 2006, 01:47:16]

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