West Caln man sen­tenced for DUI crash

Sa­muel Mow­day will serve 111/2 to 23 months in Ch­ester County Pri­son

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Michael P. Rel­la­han mrel­la­han@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @Ch­escoCourtNews on Twit­ter

WEST CH­ESTER >> A West Caln man has avoided serv­ing at least one year in a state pri­son cell, ac­cept­ing a plea of­fer that will in­stead al­low him to serve al­most that same amount of time in Ches-

ter County Pri­son.

But more im­por­tantly for de­fen­dant Sa­muel Ben­jamin Mow­day, said the judge im­pos­ing the sen­tence on Fri­day, he es­caped the pos­si­bil­ity of much more se­ri­ous charges - or his own demise.

“You are very for­tu­nate that you are not go­ing to state pri­son,” said Com­mon Pleas Judge Pa­trick Car­mody to Mow­day be­fore sen­tenc­ing him to 11 ½ to 23 months in county pri­son for the of­fense of ag­gra­vated as­sault while driv­ing un­der the in­flu­ence of drugs, a sen­tence that Mow­day be­gan serv­ing im­me­di­ately after the brief pro­ceed­ing at the Ch­ester County Jus­tice Cen­ter. The pros­e­cu­tion, said Car­mody, was “will­ing to take a state sen­tence of one year and make it an 11 ½ month sen­tence.”

But, the judge re­minded Mow­day, 36, a li­censed welder and me­chanic, there was more. “You could have killed your­self and this woman. There but for the grace of God this woman dies.”

“I un­der­stand,” Mow­day said as he stood be­side his at­tor­ney, As­sis­tant Pub­lic De­fender Laura Walker. “I un­der­stand.”

The woman that Car­mody was re­fer­ring to was Honey Brook area res­i­dent Tara Stagg, who suf­fered se­vere in­juries in the crash that Mow­day caused. Chief Deputy District At­tor­ney Ron­ald Yen, who pros­e­cuted the case, told Car­mody that Stagg still suf­fers the after-ef­fects of her in­juries, which in­cluded frac­tured ribs, a bro­ken left arm, and a frac­tured left leg from the hip to the shin.

Ac­cord­ing to Yen, the pros­e­cu­tion had de­cided to of­fer Mow­day the county sen­tence in ex­change for his guilty plea, in­stead of fol­low­ing the state’s stan­dard guide­lines of a min­i­mum sen­tence of 12 months to 24 months. That was due, he said, in part to Mow­day’s lack of any prior crim­i­nal record, and an al­most spot­less driv­ing his­tory.

“He has a ticket or so, but oth­er­wise it’s a clean record,” Yen said. “We don’t feel that un­der the cir­cum­stances

that Mr. Mow­day should be in­car­cer­ated in the state (pri­son) sys­tem at this time.” He said both Stagg and the po­lice who charged Mow­day were okay with the pro­posed plea agree­ment. Stagg did not at­tend the pro­ceed­ing. “She’s been re­cov­er­ing, but it has been dif­fi­cult,” Yen said.

The sen­tence also calls for Mow­day, who was ac­com­pa­nied by fam­ily mem­bers in court, to serve two years of pro­ba­tion after his pa­role, and to re­im­burse Stagg for her ex­penses due to her in­juries.

Be­sides an­swer­ing Car­mody’s ques­tions about whether he un­der­stood what he was do­ing by plead­ing guilty to the as­sault charges, Mow­day did not ad­dress the court.

In the facts as laid out by Yen and the ar­rest­ing of­fi­cer, West Caln pa­trol­man Wil­liam Smith, the crash oc­curred around 9:30 p.m. on Feb. 19.

Mow­day was driv­ing a car on Route 10 through Sads­bury, West Sads­bury and West Caln, where he lives, and was seen by an­other mo­torist weav­ing on the ru­ral high­way. “He was all over the road,” Yen said, not­ing that a pas­sen­ger in a car be­hind Mow­day had called 911 to re­port the er­ratic driv­ing.

As the call was made, Mow­day’s car drifted over across the cen­ter line and into the on­com­ing lane of traf­fic. There, he col­lided

head-on with Stagg’s car. Ac­cord­ing to Smith, Mow­day es­caped the crash with no in­juries and was able to free him­self from his car. Stagg, on the other hand, was pinned be­hind the wheel and had to be ex­tracted from the car by the lo­cal fire com­pany.

When Smith ap­proached Mow­day, the driver was stag­ger­ing and spoke with slurred speech. A sec­ond of­fi­cer was called to ad­min­is­ter field so­bri­ety tests, which Mow­day failed. He told po­lice that he had taken pre­scrip­tion

drugs be­fore get­ting be­hind the wheel, in­clud­ing Clon­azepam and Sabroxin, and had smoked mar­i­juana.

Yen said the com­bi­na­tion of drugs in his sys­tem made Mow­day in­ca­pable of safely op­er­at­ing a mo­tor ve­hi­cle. He was charged in June after tox­i­col­ogy tests came back and showed the pres­ence of all three drugs.

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