Plea entered in fatal crash

Published 9:57 pm Friday, August 14, 2015

A 79-year-old woman entered an Alford plea Friday in a case involving a fatal accident last December.

Pauline Crocker Austin was accused of causing the wreck that killed 38-year-old Windsor woman Michele Acree, as well as her unborn son, Henry Wyatt Acree.

A 25-year-old man was also injured in the wreck, which happened about 5:35 p.m. that Friday, Dec. 12, in the 4800 block of Pruden Boulevard.

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Austin’s Alford plea means she did not admit guilt but acknowledged the evidence would have been sufficient to find her guilty had the case gone to trial.

Prosecutor George Bruch detailed the statements of several witnesses in the case, who reported seeing Austin’s car darting in and out of traffic, swerving into and out of lanes and cutting off other vehicles.

Bruch said one witness reported Austin tailgating him, then swerving to pass him. She then came up on the next vehicle and tailgated it, then swerved to pass. That’s when she clipped the bumper of Acree’s vehicle, pushing it into oncoming traffic.

Bruch said Austin told police she did not see the vehicle in her blind spot.

Austin’s plea was to one count of involuntary manslaughter. Two other charges — reckless driving and failure to give a turn signal — were not prosecuted as part of a plea agreement.

A sentencing hearing is set for Nov. 16.