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Former Curry Aide Charged With Manslaughter In Crash

Attorney Leonard Stamm | Breathalyzer test shows blood alcohol level over legal limit in Prince Georges County

By Jon Jeter
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 18, 1995; Page D01

A former top aide to Prince George's County Executive Wayne K. Curry was charged yesterday with vehicular manslaughter in connection with a hit-and-run crash last month that killed a 51-year-old woman.

The charge against Brian T. Flood was the most serious contained in a 13-count indictment announced yesterday by Jack Johnson, Prince George's state's attorney. Prosecutors expanded the case after concluding that the former Curry spokesman is criminally responsible for Evelyn Manning's death, officials said.

Flood was driving his county-owned vehicle northbound on Landover Road on Dec. 29 when it plowed into Manning, who was standing behind her disabled car on the busy, darkened thoroughfare in Cheverly, law enforcement officials said. Two witnesses told county police that the car sped off after the accident, and investigators initially charged Flood with driving while intoxicated, driving under the influence and four other traffic violations.

But after a nearly three-week investigation by the state's attorney's office, the case against the 35-year-old Flood was broadened to include charges of manslaughter, homicide while intoxicated, reckless and negligent driving and several other traffic violations, Johnson said yesterday. All of the charges in the indictment are misdemeanors, but the manslaughter charge alone carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

Flood's attorney, Leonard Stamm, said that Flood is innocent of any criminal wrongdoing and that alcohol did not play a role in the accident.

Johnson said yesterday that alcohol played a role in many of the accidents that led to 94 traffic fatalities in Prince George's in the first 11 months of 1994.

"An automobile in the hands of the wrong person is just as deadly as a gun," Johnson said. "We want to send the message that we will no longer tolerate this."

Curry suspended Flood hours after his arrest and fired him Friday. He said in an interview with Washington Post editors and reporters yesterday that the tragedy would lead to a change in some personnel procedures in his administration.

"We'll probably be more careful in terms of 'examining' people," Curry said. "What form that will take, I don't yet know."

But he also said, "The suggestion, implied by anyone, that there would be any human process by which to predict that kind of a tragedy is obviously absurd."

He called Flood a "very talented and capable guy" who had been a good fit for the job of chief spokesman.

Much of the state's burden in proving a manslaughter conviction against Flood depends on demonstrating that he was inebriated at the time of the accident, trial lawyers said.

A bartender at a Landover hotel has told investigators that he served alcohol to Flood shortly before the fatal crash, and a Breathalyzer test revealed that his blood alcohol level was 0.11 nearly 10 hours after the accident, police have said. The legal limit in Maryland is 0.10.

Flood's attorney, Stamm, reiterated yesterday his contention that the evidence will ultimately exonerate Flood of any criminal culpability in Manning's death.

Flood, who lives in Hyattsville with his wife and young son, was charged in September with driving while intoxicated by a Fairfax City police officer. Flood's blood alcohol level was 0.13 at the time of his arrest, according to court documents, but Flood was allowed to plead guilty to a lesser charge of reckless driving and was fined $1,000 and had his driving privileges in Virginia suspended for 30 days.

That was roughly the same time Flood was making a name for himself as a bright go-getter in Curry's campaign to become Prince George's county executive. When Curry was elected in November, he made Flood one of his first appointments, naming him the administration's top spokesman.

One of the perks of that position was the county-owned vehicle that police say Flood was driving when he crashed into Manning. A custodian at the county's courthouse, she was on her way home to her Bladensburg apartment when her car stalled.

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