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Woman pleads not guilty to manslaughter charge

Barbara Mercer, 54, of Dade City died in the crash. Three others were injured.

By BRADY DENNIS

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 17, 2001


DADE CITY -- Shanna Jane West, charged with manslaughter in a fatal accident she caused Nov. 21, 2000, while high on drugs, entered a written plea of not guilty Monday.

Such a move is not uncommon for criminal defendants, and it will not prevent West from going before a judge to make a formal plea in an arraignment hearing.

No arraignment date had been set for West as of Monday.

West, 21, of Brandon was arrested in Tampa early on Nov. 21 on charges of driving under the influence, to which she later pleaded guilty.

She was released on bond, and less than 12 hours later was high on GHB, a drug that causes euphoria and sedation.

This time West was driving erratically on U.S. 41, when she crossed the center line and hit another car head-on.

Barbara Mercer, 54, of Dade City was killed in the accident. Three others were injured.

More than four months after the accident, West was arrested April 3 on charges of manslaughter by culpable negligence. Her bail initially was set at $7,500. But she was ordered by County Judge Wayne Cobb last week to be held without bail until trial.

She remained in custody Monday at Land O'Lakes jail.

- Staff writer Brady Dennis covers police news in east Pasco. He can be reached at (352) 521-5757, ext. 23, or dennis@sptimes.com.

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