Jury hands up verdict in 2009 fatal accident

By John W. Goodwin Jr.



A jury in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court on Friday found a Youngstown man not guilty of the most serious charges in a car accident that killed a well-known social worker in 2009.

Eric Brady, 26, of East Avondale Avenue, had been on trial before Judge Maureen Sweeney on charges of failure to stop after an accident and aggravated vehicular homicide, with a lesser included charge of vehicular homicide in the 2009 death of social worker Kim Sullivan.

Jurors began deliberating shortly before noon Friday and came back with a verdict just after 4 p.m.

Brady was found not guilty of aggravated vehicular homicide, not guilty of failure to stop after an accident, but guilty of vehicular homicide.

The vehicular-homicide charge, a misdemeanor of the first degree, means Brady could be sentenced to up to 12 months in jail. He will be sentenced Monday morning.

Sullivan, 42, of Austintown, died Jan. 18, 2009, after an accident that happened about 7 a.m. in the 100 block of South Meridian Road. Sullivan was a well-known judicial advocate for Sojourner House, a domestic-violence program.

The accident took place after Brady crossed lanes, and the cars collided at an angle. Sullivan’s death was almost immediate. Brady was hospitalized for a time after the accident and is said to have suffered extensive memory loss.

Robert Andrews, an assistant county prosecutor, argued that Brady operated his vehicle in an extremely reckless manner on snow-covered roads, driving over the posted speed limit, leading to the accident that killed Sullivan. He said Brady then fled the accident, walking away from the scene.

Brady was found lying in the snow a short distance from the accident site.

Atty. Mark Lavelle, representing Brady, labeled the incident an unfortunate accident, but said his client was not speeding at the time and did not operate his vehicle with extreme recklessness. He said Brady wandered off after the accident because he was disoriented and confused.

Ultimately, Andrews said, the jury found Brady to have been negligent in the operation of the vehicle, but not reckless.

“I don’t agree with it, but I respect the decision of the jury. There were some difficult legal issues to sort through so I can see why they reached that verdict,” Andrews said.

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