By Jeanne Starmack
A woman who’s charged in the death of a Campbell businessman was expected to plead guilty to vehicular homicide Monday, but instead has asked for a jury trial.
Whitney Yaeger, 20, who police report ran over Dave Muslovski, 55, while he was out for an early-morning walk June 17, 2010, is expected to be on trial in Struthers Municipal Court beginning at 8 a.m. Sept. 29.
Yaeger surprised Muslovski’s family members, who’d gathered Monday afternoon to hear her plea.
“We’re surprised,” said Muslovski’s daughter, Tina Yanssens. “I thought she was getting off easy.”
Yaeger lives near the Muslovskis in Springfield Township. She told state police she didn’t see Muslovski, who often walked for fitness, because she was texting and driving.
Muslovski, who owned Iron City Wood Products in Campbell, was run over around 5:40 a.m. on Middletown Road not far from his home on Unity Road. He died at 12:45 p.m. at St. Elizabeth Health Center.
After Monday’s hearing, Yaeger’s attorney, John Juhasz, declined to comment to the media as he left the courtroom.
Ross Smith, the visiting prosecutor on the case, said Yaeger made her decision after a discussion about potential penalties.
The maximum jail time Yaeger could get is 6 months.
“We asked for 3 to 4 months and five years’ probation so she gets her life on track,” Yanssens said.
“We offer her a challenge, to become what my father was — an asset to the community,” she continued. Yanssens has said Yaeger should help educate people about the dangers of texting and driving.
Yanssens said earlier this year the family was hoping Smith, who replaced Struthers prosecutor Carol Clemente-Wagner on the case after she recused herself, would charge Yaeger with a felony instead of a misdemeanor.
Smith said Monday he investigated that possibility, but concluded she was correctly charged with a misdemeanor.