A woman’s body was found face down on the shoulder of a parkway connecting Baltimore to Washington, D.C., federal officials said.
Her cellphone was found in the nearby grass, and police recovered a second phone, with a smashed screen — which investigators later learned belonged to her girlfriend — from the road, according to prosecutors.
Her girlfriend, of Melbourne, Florida, is accused of running her over and “leaving her to die” on Nov. 24, 2021, along the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, prosecutors said.
A jury found the 29-year-old guilty of voluntary manslaughter on May 19, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland.
The woman was also charged with second-degree murder, but the jury couldn’t reach a verdict on that charge, officials said.
Jury members concluded she “intentionally killed the victim in the heat of passion,” prosecutors said.
Her attorney, Laura Abelson, a federal public defender, told McClatchy News in a statement on May 19 that prosecutors mischaracterized the evidence presented at trial when announcing her client’s conviction.
Abelson said her client did not intentionally kill her girlfriend and the jury’s verdict demonstrated this by finding her guilty of a “less serious offense.”
The woman could be sentenced up to 15 years in federal prison on the charge of voluntary manslaughter, according to prosecutors.
More on the case
When the defendant’s girlfriend was found dead, officers noticed a lack of tire skid marks and didn’t see any car parts scattered at the scene the morning of Nov. 24, 2021, according to the release.
Later that day, the woman tracked her phone, which was found near her girlfriend’s body, to the U.S. Park Police’s Criminal Investigations office, officials said.
She contacted the park police’s station in Greenbelt, Maryland, and said she lost her phone after it was thrown out of her car, according to prosecutors. Then, she agreed to be interviewed.
During the interview on Nov. 24, the woman said she was in Washington, D.C., visiting her mother when she drove her girlfriend and another woman home in a black Nissan, prosecutors said. She’s accused of lying.
She said the other woman in the car began hitting her, so she pulled over and told both women, whom she described as her “friends,” to get out, according to officials.
The day after the interview, a detective visited her at her mother’s home where she agreed to a search of her phone and let officers seize a black Nissan parked behind the house, prosecutors said.
That day, the detective saw a black Ford Expedition — with an indented hood and additional damage to the front grille and passenger side of the vehicle — was parked down the street with a tag displaying the woman’s name, according to officials.
Ultimately, an investigation revealed the woman was driving the Ford, which was swabbed and had her girlfriend’s DNA on it, on Nov. 24, prosecutors said.
On Nov. 26, the woman told investigators that her girlfriend was the only passenger of the car prior to her death, according to the release.
Court documents show the woman argued she acted in self-defense that day, but prosecutors said the only evidence to support her claim was “a series of inconsistent statements made to investigators.”
Abelson told McClatchy News that evidence presented at trial showed her client was “being assaulted by her girlfriend when she pulled over on the parkway.”
“(She) kicked her out of the car to stop the assault, and then merged into traffic to get away,” Abelson said.
Abelson’s client is due back in court on Aug. 25 for a sentencing hearing, according to the release.