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Liberty woman enters guilty plea in crash that killed motorcyclist

AUSTINTOWN — Angelica M. Burns, 27, of Fifth Avenue in Liberty, has pleaded no contest to misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter in the April 15 traffic crash that killed Stephen L. Paynter, 54, of Austintown, who was riding a motorcycle.

Paynter’s death occurred during a year when motorcycle fatalities and motor vehicle fatalities have been on the rise.

Burns entered her plea recently in Mahoning County Area Court in Austintown to the second-degree charge before Judge Scott Hunter, who will sentence her at 9 a.m. Jan. 18. She could get up to 90 days in jail.

The crash occurred on state Route 46 at Interstate 80 in Austintown. Investigators secured a surveillance video showing the crash.

Burns was traveling south on Route 46 and entered the left-turning lane to make a left turn onto the Interstate 80 eastbound on-ramp, the patrol stated in a crash report. It was 4:39 p.m.

Paynter was northbound on Route 46 on his 2007 Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic motorcycle in the left through lane, apparently intending to proceed north through the intersection with the right-of-way.

As the vehicles approached the intersection, Burns “initially stopped prior to making (her) left turn to wait for a small sedan that was traveling northbound in the right lane of (Route) 46,” the report states. “However, after the sedan passed, (Burns) committed to its left turn” and continued into the turn after observing the motorcycle approaching.

“The video shows (Burns) making (her) turn and pulling in front of (Paynter),” the report states. Burns “stated to seeing (Paynter) just before impact and attempted to rapidly accelerate in an attempt to clear the intersection.”

MORE FATALITIES

Mahoning County has had eight motorcycle fatalities so far this year, at least double the number the county has recorded in any previous year since 2018, according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

The county had four motorcycle fatalities in 2021, three in 2020, two in 2019 and three in 2018.

This also has been a deadly year in Mahoning County for motor vehicle fatalities of all kinds, according to the patrol. There have been 32 motor vehicle crashes so far in the county in 2022 — a 54 percent increase over the 21 fatal motor vehicle crashes in all of 2021. There were 18 such crashes in 2020, 22 such crashes in 2019 and 15 in 2018.

One trend seen in patrol statistics is that the number of rural fatal crashes has tripled this year compared to 2021. There were 15 rural fatal crashes so far this year, compared to five in 2021 and three in 2020. There were seven in 2019 and nine in 2018.

The number of urban fatal crashes has been fairly steady with 17 so far this year, 16 in 2021 and 15 in 2020 and 15 in 2019. There were only six fatal urban crashes in 2018, however.

The number of OVI-related fatal crashes has inched upward in the past three years from nine in 2019 and 2020, to 10 in 2021 and 11 in 2022 so far. There were 13 OVI-related fatal crashes in 2019 and five in 2018.

Paynter was born in Maryland, lived in the Youngstown area since 1992 and worked 12 years as shop foreman for Banner Supply, according to his obituary. “He enjoyed the outdoors and riding his motorcycle,” his obituary stated.

He loved music, especially contemporary Christian music and “sang a song to his wife at their wedding.” The couple has three children.

The crash report states that it was 65 degrees that day with good visibility. Burns was not injured.

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