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Guilty verdict in vehicular homicide, assaults


More than a year after the crash, the driver of a car that slammed into a truck near Malone, killing her passenger and seriously injuring an elderly couple was convicted Friday of vehicular homicide, vehicular assault and possession of methamphetamine.

Wendy M. Cooper, 37, was charged in the death of Lucio R. Stanton, 19, of Aberdeen. She was tried this week in Grays Harbor Superior Court.

On Jan. 14, 2013, Cooper crashed into a pickup truck with her sedan head-on in Malone on Highway 12 at about 11:20 p.m. Investigators determined she was driving about 90 mph when her car struck the truck.

Stanton was pronounced dead at the scene. The 75-year-old Aberdeen man driving the truck suffered broken ribs, and his wife, 72, had fractures in her back and neck and internal injuries.

When emergency responders pulled Stanton from the vehicle, a pipe used for smoking methamphetamine fell out of the car.

Baggies containing meth were found in Cooper’s clothing, and a blood test was positive for meth.

Deputy Prosecutor Jason Walker said jurors were not unanimous on the manner of the vehicular homicide. Sentencing can be influenced by a determination the homicide was committed while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any drug, in a reckless manner or with disregard for the safety of others.

“We would have liked for the jury to find she was under the influence of drugs considering she had a large amount of methamphetamine in her body, more than 10 times the therapeutic level,” Walker said.

A pharmaceutical version of methamphetamine is sold under the name Desoxyn is FDA-approved as a drug of last resort for severe obesity and attention deficit hyperactive disorder.

Blood concentrations of .01 to .05 milliliters per liter are considered therapeutic, Walker said. Cooper’s blood concentration was .43.

“Which is recreational use, that’s somebody who’s smoking it,” he said.

Cooper’s sentencing is scheduled for March 25.

Family and friends of Cooper and Stanton were represented throughout the trial.

At Cooper’s arraignment last June, family members said Stanton had fallen in with a bad crowd. They attended hearings wearing purple sweatshirts with his photo, name, and dates of birth and death.

“He would always make someone laugh,” Stanton’s cousin, Rachel Francis, recalled at that time. “He was a loving person. If he could make someone else smile, it made his day.”

 

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