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Distracted driver given 30 days in jail

jennifer lee weaverLa Plata, MD - You hear about it on the news every day: Distracted driving. Texting and driving. Cell phone use in general when behind the steering wheel of a motor vehicle. For Jennifer Lee Weaver, 45 of North Beach, that lesson was all too real.

Weaver faced sentencing before Charles County Circuit Court Judge Amy J. Bragunier Wednesday, July 12 for involuntary manslaughter charges stemming from a three-car collision near Hughesville Dec. 22, 2015.

Steven Allen Pirrone of Hughesville was killed in the crash.

Investigators determined Weaver was looking at her cell phone when Pirrone was stopped on eastbound Route 231 waiting to make a left turn. A Honda Civic operated by Weaver was traveling on eastbound at Teagues Point Road when she rear-ended the vehicle, sending it into the path of a Ford F-350 traveling westbound. Pirrone was pronounced dead on the scene.

Weaver is a counselor for Calvert County Public Schools who is best known for being a sensitive and caring person to students and acquaintances. Many people spoke on her behalf.

The wife of the victim told the court her first reaction was anger, but that it was buffered with compassion for the defendant.

“This is a person with a moral compass,” said Defense Attorney Rolando Julio Aleman. “For her to have caused the death of someone else, it has affected her. She is someone who has made it her life’s work to help others.”

Aleman said there was conflicting testimony from the scene where an officer said Weaver told him she was texting.

“She also told the EMT, ‘I don’t know if I was texting. I know I was looking down,’ ” Aleman stressed.

“There are no words that can ease the pain of losing your loved one,” Weaver told Pirrone’s family in the court room. “Believe me, I would trade places with him if I could. I hope in the future you can forgive me. I will try to live a life to honor Mr. Pirrone.” She told the court she was willing to accept whatever consequences were imposed.

“There were a couple of things that stuck with me,” Bragunier said before she announced her sentence. “One was that Ms. Weaver said she would trade places with Mr. Pirrone if she could. Another was Ms. Pirrone talking about the myriad of emotions she felt, that she felt anger, but when she said compassion, that struck me. For her to see that and say that, I thought was meaningful.”

She handed down a sentence of one year with all but 31 days suspended, gave Weaver credit for one day served and granted her work release. She added three years of unsupervised probation. She also added community service, telling Weaver that she must speak on the dangers of distracted driving in every high school--private and public--in Charles and Calvert counties.

Contact Joseph Norris at joe.norris@thebaynet.com

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