Walla Walla woman charged in wreck that injured kids

Michelle G. Maurer was allegedly under the influence when she was in a crash last month.

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WALLA WALLA -- A woman previously charged with trying to burn down the residence of her estranged husband and his girlfriend now also faces trial for allegedly being under the influence of medication when she caused a traffic crash that injured her two children last month.

Michelle G. Maurer, 36, is set for trial May 16 and 17 in Superior Court on two counts of vehicular assault, which are felonies, and a charge of third-degree driving while license suspended, a misdemeanor.

Officials said that on March 15, Maurer was driving a 1988 Toyota heading west on East Alder Street past Park Street when she failed to follow the turn in the roadway and struck the Carnegie arts building.

Her two children reportedly were passengers and all three were injured.

Her daughter received treatment at Providence St. Mary Medical Center for internal and facial injuries; her son, for a fractured left elbow and bruising of his right collarbone and pelvis.

Maurer was treated for various injuries, including a wrist fracture. She later went to Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital where a detective contacted her in the psychiatric wing and interviewed her in a conference room, according to a police report filed in court.

The report says Maurer admitted being under the influence of the pain reliever Tramadol, having taken 24 pills within two hours before the crash. She said her prescribed dosage was three a day, but she was addicted to her medication.

She was discharged March 22, taken into custody by Yakima police and booked into the Walla Walla County Jail.

At the time of the crash, Maurer was on release awaiting trial in the unrelated case in which she's charged with first-degree attempted arson, first-degree burglary and third-degree malicious mischief.

Walla Walla police said Maurer forced open a side door at the residence of her husband, Rick Maurer, and his girlfriend, Casey Hamper, at 6 Whitman St. on the afternoon of Feb. 7. When the couple arrived home about 2:45 p.m., Michelle Maurer -- with a lighter in her hand -- ran out from the house toward Hamper, punched her in the face and the two started struggling, according to a police report filed in court. Hamper was able to detain Michelle Maurer until police arrived.

A liquid that looked and smelled like gasoline had been poured on the kitchen floor, officials said. Two gas cans were found inside.

In an interview with an officer, Michelle Maurer acknowledged she entered the home and "poured the gasoline on the floor because she wanted (the residents) to smell it," the police report says.

She allegedly had threatened in the past to burn down the house, which is owned by Mitchell and Sandra Hamper.

The Maurers have been in the midst of divorce proceedings for about two years.

Terry McConn can be reached at terrymcconn@wwub.com or 526-8319.

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