Ex-P.G. Official Guilty in Hit-and-Run
By Susan Saulny and Wendy Melillo
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, July 26, 1996 ; Page B01
Former Prince George's County official Brian T. Flood was convicted of vehicular manslaughter and homicide while under the influence of alcohol last night for a hit-and-run accident that killed a woman who was standing near her disabled car in Cheverly.
Flood, who faces up to 10 years in prison, was released on bond.
He is to remain at home under house arrest until he is sentenced Sept. 13 and must wear an electronic ankle bracelet that will monitor his movements.
His bond is his house in Hyattsville, which he signed over as collateral after he was arrested.
At the time of the accident on Dec. 29, 1994, Flood had recently been named spokesman for County Executive Wayne K. Curry, who had taken office three weeks before. Flood was fired after his arrest.
Flood had attended a meeting at the Landover Holiday Inn, where, he testified, he had "had a few drinks" at the bar. He was driving home about 10:45 p.m. when his car hit Evelyn Manning, 51, of Bladensburg, whose car had stalled on Route 202.
In testimony this week, Flood said that at the time of the accident he was looking down at a bag of food he had bought at a restaurant and did not realize he had struck Manning.
He also disputed a hotel bartender's contention that he was served six vodka-and-tonics and said he wasn't sure he had consumed the three he ordered. In a statement to police, Flood had said he had had nothing to drink at the time of the accident. He told the jury he was telling the truth in court because he was under oath.
The Prince George's Circuit Court jury deliberated for more than 12 hours before reaching its verdict, convicting Flood of 10 of the 12 charges against him. The jurors found him not guilty of two counts of being intoxicated at the time of the accident, which defense attorney Leonard R. Stamm said was contradictory. "I was very surprised," he said, "because the finding of gross negligence [of which Flood was convicted] is inconsistent with the finding that he was not intoxicated at the time of the accident."
Stamm said he intends to appeal. "I am disappointed by the result," he said. "But we are convinced the finding will not stand the test of time."
Assistant State's Attorney Roland N. Patterson Jr. said that "intoxication is but one element that can give support to negligence."
The strongest part of the prosecution's case, Patterson said, was the testimony of neutral witnesses who saw Flood drive away from the accident. "They did not have to come forward, but they just wanted to see the truth come to light."
Sam Morataya, a juror, said he was surprised that the jury came to a decision at all. "It was a very difficult decision," he said. "We were deadlocked, and I thought we would remain deadlocked."
Late yesterday afternoon, jurors emerged to say they had reached a verdict on nine of the 12 counts. Both lawyers said they were willing to accept partial verdicts, but the judge decided to give the jurors more time to deliberate.
Members of Manning's family alternately cried and prayed throughout the tense day. They praised the jury's decision.
"I had doubts because it was so long and drawn out," said Shirley Jones, Manning's daughter. "I feel the jury agreed with me that this wasn't right. He can appeal, but we have victory at the moment. "
As the jurors delivered the verdict, deep sighs came from Manning's family, and tears streamed down Jones's face. "You cry when you're happy, too," she said.
Flood, his wife and parents declined to speak with reporters. "It would not be appropriate," Flood said outside the courthouse.
Throughout the trial, Patterson hammered away at defense contentions that Flood was not intoxicated at the time of the accident, that he did not know that he had hit someone and that he used ordinary care on the road.
Stamm, Flood's attorney, said in closing arguments Wednesday that the state had not proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Flood was under the influence of alcohol. He contended 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.
After the verdict, Stamm asked that Flood be allowed to remain at home with his wife and 10-year-old son. He stressed the significance of the jury's decision that Flood was not intoxicated while driving.
Patterson argued that Flood was convicted of being under the influence while driving and that "there is a risk to the public safety."
Judge Thomas Rymer of Calvert County, who was assigned to preside at the trial in Prince George's, said, "I agree he could be doing harm to the community, but he has been in fairly good condition for the last year and a half."
Flood is required to continue to submit daily urine samples until he is sentenced.
Articles appear as they were originally printed in The Washington Post and may not include subsequent corrections.