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Zorger pleads guilty in crash that killed fetus, another woman



Published: Fri, October 21, 2011 @ 12:09 a.m.

By Ashley Luthern

aluthern@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

A 26-year-old Canfield woman pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated vehicular homicide Thursday for her role in a car accident that left her fetus dead and killed a 55-year-old woman.

Raechel Zorger entered the plea in front of Judge R. Scott Krichbaum of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court and will be sentenced at 9 a.m. Dec. 20.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol said Zorger swerved left on Detwiler Road in Beaver Township on April 12, hitting a car driven by Darla Schumacher, 55, of Detwiler Road. The patrol said Zorger had a blood-alcohol level of 0.259. The legal limit in Ohio is 0.08.

Zorger also was charged with another count of aggravated vehicular homicide and one misdemeanor count of child endangering in the death of her unborn child.

Those two charges were dismissed by prosecutors Thursday when evidence about the fetus’ viability was not permitted. Judge Krichbaum did not allow the prosecution’s expert report from a doctor at Akron Children’s Hospital based on the rule that expert reports should be disclosed “no later than 21 days prior to trial, which ... may be modified by the court for good cause shown.”

Prosecutors had requested medical records for the expert opinion well before that deadline, but the judge did not grant the requests until the deadline had passed. The requests were prompted after a coroner’s report in August stated the fetus weighed 377 grams — or 13.29 ounces — and was 23 weeks and five days old.

“... The fetus was so small ... giving rise to the viability issue and question as to the gestational age, due to [Zorger’s] own action of reportedly smoking 20 cigarettes a day and drinking alcohol during her pregnancy. It is because of her actions and not the state’s actions that the issue of viability was even present,” according to a motion prosecutors filed Thursday.

In the motion for reconsideration, prosecutors wrote, “The court has ruled that the information that the court just permitted the state to obtain cannot be used at trial. ... If that is the case, the state will be forced to dismiss the counts pertaining to the fetus despite the fact that the fetus was viable.”

Prosecutors dismissed the charges relating to the fetus and recommended the maximum sentence of eight years in prison after Zorger pleaded guilty.

Last month, Judge Krichbaum ruled that the blood drawn at St. Elizabeth Health Center and statements made to police against Zorger were inadmissible, after the prosecution’s failure to introduce witnesses at a Sept. 7 hearing.

Zorger was charged in two other incidents involving alcohol in the past five years.

In February 2009, she pleaded no contest to charges of child endangering, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct while intoxicated and was found guilty by a judge. She was sentenced to pay a fine, placed on probation and ordered to seek drug and alcohol treatment, according to court records.

In April 2006, Shenango Township police charged Zorger with driving under the influence. As a first-time offender, she was entered into Pennsylvania Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition, allowing her to stay out of jail, avoid a one-year license suspension and keep her record clean, according to court documents.


Comments

1speakingup(3 comments)posted 3 years ago

Who is this girl connected to? The law seems to dismiss the rights of the victims and give every chance possible to the perpetrators of horrific crimes. There is more to this story than what we are being told...why would a judge wait until a deadline passes to allow a statement from a doctor to be entered as evidence. Does the unborn child have no rights at all? What is going up with this whole case?

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2db(280 comments)posted 3 years ago

This case smells real bad.

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3Attis(900 comments)posted 3 years ago

A fetus/embryo is not an "unborn child"; or are we, the readers, "undead corpses". Birth and death make a difference, a colossal one.

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4itbelinda(22 comments)posted 3 years ago

The Prosecutor recommended 8 years, I repeat 8 years, for the murder of a very productive member of society and not to mention a VERY NICE LADY. Darla had a good 20 or 30 years left of her life and it was cut short by a girl who obviously doesn't care about anyone but herself and she is recommended to get ONLY 8 years. Now that's BULLSH*T!!!!!!!!!!!

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5Justthefacts23(1 comment)posted 3 years ago

The Prosecutor recommended 8 yrs because that is the maximum penalty for this charge. So, 8 yrs is the most the judge is allowed, by law, to sentence her. The judge didn't allow the deadline to pass, the prosecutor did not go forward when originally scheduled, and therefore, the witnesses and testimony were not allowed. Maybe not fair, but the court has to follow the laws of Ohio...that having been said, she is a piece of $hit and will have to answer to God someday...

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6wondering2(32 comments)posted 3 years ago

I wonder if God has any regrets......

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7ashbabiii(2 comments)posted 3 years ago

Regardless if the baby was born or unborn she deserves justice. I'm happy for the family that gets justice out of this tragedy, but that baby was a person too, sure it wasn't born, sure it was considered a "fetus", but this murderer should not get away with only one ofthe two murders she committed. That baby didn't even get a chance at life because her mother was a drunk. Does anyone care about the baby involved? Or not, just because they considered her a fetus because she didn't take a breath before she died? What's screwed up, the the fact that killer Zorger is only being charged for one of the two murders, in which one of her own flesh and blood. And noone gives a rats butt about this baby. REST IN PEACE baby.

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8whit1980(10 comments)posted 3 years ago

Justthefacts-you're incorrect. the judge didn't allow the blood alcohol to come in because the prosecutor didn't go forward when originally scheduled. This time the judge didn't grant a request for medical records until after a deadline passed. The prosecutor made the request long before the deadline. Then after granting the request after the deadline passed didn't let the information be used. Then why did he grant the request anyway if he didn't mean for it to be used? And why didn't he grant the request when it was first made? This doesn't make sense.

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9taxpayer1001(274 comments)posted 3 years ago

None of this makes sense to me. Just the fact that she killed two people because she was driving drunk should put her away for life. But if they have to remove the charge for the fetus, SHE STILL KILLED A HUMAN besides the fetus. How is it possible she could be free in less than 8 yrs? We all know she will be out before that for good behavior etc. Something is really wrong with our justice system!

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10ashbabiii(2 comments)posted 2 years, 12 months ago

The baby was NOT a fetus! She was 6 months pregnant. She was in the third trimester. SHE KILLED HER CHILD!! stop referring to that child as a fetus!

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11seminole(476 comments)posted 2 years, 12 months ago

The prosecutor's office bungled evidence in this case, they are at fault for the 8 year, which will be 6 max. Gain's and his band of incompetant bufoons should be dismissed and replaced with first-year law students that give a damn about actually upholding and practicing law. These fools are totally unprepared and a travesty to the judicial system. remember all these plea deals and evidenciary errors when King Pompous A-- Gains comes back for re-election.

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12jude(1 comment)posted 2 years, 11 months ago

This whole situation is so messed up. The blood test was thrown out because she declined the the blood test in the hospital that the police officer asked her for, and she was not read her rights.So messed up that this is how our system works.

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