Ex-Curry Aide Admits Mistake at Hit-Run Trial
By Susan Saulny
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, July 25, 1996 ; Page B03
Former Prince George's County official Brian T. Flood testified yesterday that "it was horribly wrong" of him to leave the scene of an accident that killed a woman, even though he did not realize he had hit anyone, and he gave an explanation for driving away and later lying about the accident to police.
"We were 3 1/2 weeks into what was supposed to be a new day for Prince George's," said Flood, 37, "and I knew this would cost me my job."
At the time of the accident on Dec. 29, 1994, Flood recently had been appointed spokesman for the newly elected county executive, Wayne K. Curry (D), who later fired him.
Flood, testifying for a second day at his trial in Prince George's Circuit Court, was the final witness before attorneys made closing arguments and the jury began deliberations. The jurors retired for the night after an hour and a half.
Flood is charged with vehicular manslaughter, driving while intoxicated and 11 other offenses in the death of Evelyn Virginia Manning, 51. If found guilty, he could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison.
On the night of the 10:45 p.m. accident, Flood had a meeting at the Landover Holiday Inn, where he "had a few drinks" at the bar, he said. A hotel bartender says, and the tab agrees, that Flood ordered six drinks, but in testimony on Tuesday, he said he ordered three.
In a statement to police after the accident, Flood said that he had nothing to drink before the accident and that he was on his way home from his office when he struck Manning's car, which had stalled on Route 202 in Cheverly. Flood told the jurors yesterday that he was telling the truth during the trial because he was under oath.
Manning's daughter, son and fiance squirmed in their seats as the defendant testified: "It was horribly wrong to leave the scene of that accident 19 months ago. It was wrong."
In the prosecution's closing arguments, Assistant State's Attorney Roland N. Patterson Jr. assailed defense contentions that Flood was not under the influence of alcohol, that he did not know that he hit a woman and that he used ordinary care on the road.
"He had every reason to know he had hit a woman, and I dare say that if he did not know, it was because of alcohol," Patterson said.
Flood attorney Leonard R. Stamm closed the defense case with a plea to the jurors to "bring down the emotional level here." Stamm argued that the state had not proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Flood was under the influence of alcohol when the accident occurred. "The state hasn't proved Brian drank six drinks, only that he was served six drinks."
The defense attorney also told the jury: "I think that Brian came clean. He came here and said, `Look, I feel morally responsible, but that is different from legally responsible.' "
Stamm contends that Flood exercised a normal amount of caution the night of the accident, noting that other drivers on Route 202 said they had to swerve at the last minute to avoid Manning's car. But the prosecution stressed that the other drivers avoided crashing into Manning.
"When you have someone who cannot see what everyone else can see because his vision is impaired by alcohol, you don't have ordinary care, you have gross negligence," Patterson said. "You have outrageous conduct."
Daniel Fortune, Manning's fiance, was to marry his longtime girlfriend in March 1995. During most of the testimony, he sat with his head sunk low.
"This is affecting me worse than the actual death," Fortune told a reporter, adding that being in close contact with the man who killed Manning compounded the tension in the room. "It's been very emotional and rough on the family, him being on the stand."
The jury is to resume deliberations at 8:30 this morning.
Articles appear as they were originally printed in The Washington Post and may not include subsequent corrections.