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Driver to undergo mental evaluation

<p>Alison Taylor</p>


Tribune-Herald staff writer

A judge has ordered a mental evaluation for a 40-year-old Volcano woman facing charges stemming from an April hit-and-run traffic collision in Hilo that killed a 20-year-old bicyclist.

Three mental health professionals will submit reports on whether Alison Elizabeth Taylor is fit to stand trial, and Hilo Circuit Judge Greg Nakamura on Wednesday set a hearing on those reports for Feb. 15 at 8 a.m.

Deputy Prosecutor Rick Damerville told the judge that Taylor “does have a documented history of being under psychiatric care at the time of the offense.”

Taylor has pleaded not guilty to charges of manslaughter, first-degree negligent homicide, leaving the scene of an accident involving death, driving under the influence of intoxicants, reckless driving and driving with a suspended license. According to police, on April 11 at about 7:30 a.m., Taylor was driving a 2005 Toyota Tacoma pickup truck south on Kinoole Street between Ohea and Puainako streets when she struck Brody Winslow, a Hawaii Community College psychology student, who was riding a bicycle in the same direction.

Police say Taylor then hit a utility pole, severing it, and fled south on Kinoole before being pulled over at the intersection of West Palai Street by Assistant Chief Marshall Kanehailua.

Winslow, originally from Wrightsville Beach, N.C., was pronounced dead less than an hour later at Hilo Medical Center.

Prosecutors allege that Taylor was under the influence of alcohol and drugs including clonazepam, morphine and tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, at the time of the crash.

Manslaughter is punishable by up to 20 years imprisonment, while negligent homicide carries a possible 10-year prison term. Taylor cannot be convicted on both charges.

Taylor, an employee at Thai Thai Restaurant in Volcano, is a former pharmacy technician at Windward Pharmacy in the Puainako Town Center in Hilo who was awarded a certificate of merit from the Hawaii Police Department for helping stop an armed robbery there in 2010. The pharmacy was bought out by the Walgreens chain and has since closed.

Winslow’s family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Taylor. The suit alleges that Taylor “acted in a careless and negligent manner” while driving, and seeks unspecified general, special and punitive damages for “emotional distress, loss of consortium, society, companionship, comfort, support, economic support, care and attention.”

Taylor is free on $25,000 bond.

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