Woman sentenced in crash that hurt her kids

The sentence includes time for burglarizing the residence of her estranged husband and his girlfriend.


WALLA WALLA -- A woman who was under the influence of a prescription drug when she caused a traffic crash that injured her two children in March was sentenced Monday afternoon to a year-and-a-half in prison.

The 18-month sentence includes time she will spend for burglarizing the residence of her estranged husband and his girlfriend in February and for damaging property there.

Michelle G. Maurer, 36, will serve near the middle of the 15- to 20-month standard range she faced.

The prosecution was recommending the high end; the defense requested the low end.

Judge Donald W. Schacht split the difference, explaining that Maurer has no felony criminal history, but her children were her victims in the crash.

"You had the inability to control your behavior and placed those children at significant risk of serious injury or even death," he told Maurer.

Schacht gave her credit for the 76 days she'd already served in the County Jail. He also placed her on 18 months of community custody, a form of probation, after her release.

She also will have to pay more than $38,000 in restitution for her crimes.

Before the sentence was imposed, Maurer told Schacht she wants to get better. Her attorney, Richard Wernette, said her recent behavior was an aberration from the rest of her life, which has spiraled down due to addictions and a pending divorce.

Wernette added she will avail herself of treatment.

"No one is more remorseful than Michelle for injuring her two children," he said.

Maurer pleaded guilty May 9 to two counts of vehicular assault and, in February's unrelated case, to one count each of residential burglary and first-degree malicious mischief.

Officials said that on March 15, she 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 Walla Walla police 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.

Maurer reportedly 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.

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


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