Woman pleads guilty in crash, break-in

Michelle G. Maurer entered pleas in separate felony cases and faces 15-20 months in prison.

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WALLA WALLA - A woman pleaded guilty Wednesday to being under the influence of a prescription drug when she caused a traffic crash that injured her two children in March.

She also entered guilty pleas to burglarizing the residence of her estranged husband and his girlfriend the previous month and damaging property there.

Michelle G. Maurer, 36, faces a standard-range prison term of 15-20 months when she's sentenced later on the two counts of vehicular assault and one count each of residential burglary and first-degree malicious mischief.

In a plea agreement, the prosecution is recommending Maurer be ordered to serve the high end of the range in the reduced cases, but the defense may request the low end.

Future contact with her children will be determined by an appropriate dependency or divorce court.

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 were passengers and all three people in the car 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.

Maurer admitted to the detective she had been under the influence of the pain reliever Tramadol at the time of the crash, having taken 24 pills within two hours before it occurred. 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 initially was 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. 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.

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 more than two years.

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