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Ex-Curry Spokesman Says He Ordered 3, Not 6, Drinks Before Hit-and-Run

Stamm defends drunk driving charges in Prince Georges County trial.

By Susan Saulny
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, July 24, 1996 ; Page F01

Brian T. Flood testified yesterday that he had bought burgers and french fries on his way home from the Landover Holiday Inn, where he had a few drinks, and that he was "fiddling" with the food on his lap when he was involved in a fatal hit-and-run accident in 1994.

But Flood, a former spokesman for Prince George's County, said he had ordered only three drinks at the Holiday Inn, contradicting testimony from a bartender who said he had served Flood six vodka tonics.

Flood, 37, told a Circuit Court jury in Upper Marlboro that he was looking down at the bag of food that he had bought at a Wendy's restaurant when his car slammed into a stalled car on Route 202 in Cheverly on the night of Dec. 29.

Evelyn Virginia Manning, 51, was looking into the trunk of her stalled car when Flood's car struck and killed her, according to testimony last week. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Flood has been charged with 13 traffic violations including driving while intoxicated and vehicular manslaughter. If found guilty, he faces up to 10 years in prison.

The morning of the accident, Flood said, he felt sick and stayed home from work. But later that day, he agreed to meet Debra Cho, a Holiday Inn sales representative, about forming a task force to promote the county. While at the hotel, he conducted a live radio interview.

Flood arrived tired at the Landover Holiday Inn about 7 p.m., Cho said, and his tiredness sparked discussion about prices for a room. Flood declined the room, but he said he ordered light food and mixed drinks at the hotel bar between 7 and 9 p.m. The accident occurred at 10:45 p.m.

The bartender testified that he served Flood six drinks and that he placed a tab for all six on the bar before him. The tab also showed six drinks.

But Flood denied ordering and consuming six drinks and said he wasn't even sure he had consumed the three he ordered.

"I did not order and was not served six drinks," Flood said. "I've had a long time to think about this. . . . I wasn't doing that, and I wouldn't do that."

Cho testified that Flood did not offer to pay for the drinks, so she used a special promotions account to cover the tab of more than $17.

Flood said he did not offer to pay "because last time I'd done that, they'd been [complimentary]. I guess I just didn't think of it."

During questioning by his attorney, Leonard R. Stamm, Flood said he never saw the tab before he left the hotel and drove along Route 202 toward his home in Hyattsville. He said he did not feel the effect of the alcohol.

"I stopped at Wendy's, bought a couple of burgers and some french fries," Flood said. "I looked down, fiddling with the bag of food, and I never got the chance to look up again." After a long pause, he added, "I ran into Miss Manning's car."

"I smashed my head into the windshield. It was really chaotic for a second or two, then it was over," Flood said. "I didn't know what happened. Through the windshield, I saw the outline of a car. I panicked, terrified that I had just smashed a county car . . . so I just backed up and drove away."

Flood said he was scared because use of county cars by top officials had been a contentious issue at the time and because he had been drinking at the Holiday Inn.

At the time of the accident, Flood had recently been named spokesman by the newly elected county executive, Wayne K. Curry (D), who later fired him.

Stamm maintains that his client did not see Manning before or after the accident.

"Before the accident, Brian was looking down," Stamm said. "During, he hit his head on the windshield, and after, his lights were out and the body dropped down."

Articles appear as they were originally printed in The Washington Post and may not include subsequent corrections.