By JOHN BURNETT
Tribune-Herald staff writer
A 41-year-old Volcano woman pleaded no contest on Monday to charges stemming from an April 2012 hit-and-run traffic collision in Hilo that killed a 20-year-old bicyclist.
In a deal with prosecutors, Alison Taylor pleaded no contest to first-degree negligent homicide, leaving the scene of an accident involving death and DUI. She was originally also charged with manslaughter, reckless driving and driving while her license was suspended. Those charges were dropped in exchange for her no contest plea.
She faces a possible 10-year prison term on both the negligent homicide and leaving the scene charges when she’s sentenced on Nov. 15 at 9 a.m. before Hilo Circuit Judge Greg Nakamura. She could have faced a 20-year prison sentence if convicted on the manslaughter charge.
Taylor is also eligible for probation, although she would likely face up to 18 months in jail if given a probation sentence.
According to police, on April 11, 2012, 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 North Carolina, was pronounced dead less than an hour later at Hilo Medical Center.
Hilo Circuit Judge Glenn Hara, who heard Taylor’s change of plea, asked Deputy Prosecutor Jack Matsukawa what the state would prove if the case went to trial.
“The state would show that on or about April 11, 2012, on Kinoole Street at approximately 7:30 in the morning, Miss Taylor was driving in and outside of her lane,” Matsukawa replied. “Assistant Chief Kanehailua observed her crossing the center line and back all the way across, to the shoulder of the road, where Brody Winslow was …, hitting him and shearing a telephone pole and leaving the scene of an accident.”
Matsukawa said that Taylor’s blood-alcohol content was 0.18, more than twice the legal threshold for intoxication.
“And she also had drugs in her system,” Matsukawa said. Prosecutors have previously said that in addition to alcohol, Taylor was under the influence of drugs including clonazepam, morphine and tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, at the time of the crash. A prosecutor has also said in open court that Taylor was under psychiatric care at that time of the collision.
Taylor’s court-appointed attorney, Christopher Bridges, told the court the reason for the no contest plea is civil liability.
“There is a pending lawsuit in the case,” Bridges said. The litigation, filed by Winslow’s family, 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.”
Bridges has told the Tribune-Herald that Taylor has “no memory at all” of the incident.
Taylor is free on $25,000 bond pending sentencing.
Email John Burnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.