Driver pleads guilty in crash that killed woman, granddaughter
TOWSON, Md. — The driver in a crash that claimed the lives of a woman and her granddaughter in July 2018 pleaded guilty Friday morning.
Callie Schwarzman entered a guilty plea to two counts of automobile manslaughter.
Baltimore County police body camera video played in court revealed numerous statements Schwarzman made to police immediately after the July 23, 2018, crash in Cockeysville that killed Deborah Limmer, 60, and her 5-year-old granddaughter, Delaney Gaddis.
Schwarzman approached a curve driving at least 44 mph in a 25-mph zone. She hit and crossed a traffic island before striking a curb, leaving the roadway and hitting Limmer and Delaney. The impact sent Limmer 91 feet from where she was hit.
Prosecutors on Friday played home surveillance video in court that showed Limmer and Delaney moments before Schwarzman's SUV struck and killed them. The video brought the victim's family members to tears.
"A person in Baltimore County shouldn't be leaving their house to take a walk with their granddaughter, then not come home," Baltimore County State's Attorney Scott Shellenberger said. "(Having) familiarity with the area, and the fact that you know it's a hazardous area, you drive more carefully."
Surveillance video showed Schwarzman stopping and running toward the victims. A state police inspection of Schwarzman's vehicle indicated it had three bad tires and the power steering reservoir was nearly empty.
Schwarzman told police: "The power steering went out. I know I shouldn't have drove and I was taking it to the shop to maybe get the power steering fixed."
Schwarzman's blood alcohol level tested zero, but traces of a sedative, marijuana and methadone were found in her system. She told police she was on her way to a methadone clinic for treatment and admitted she was going through withdrawal.
The state recommended a sentence of 10 years in prison followed by five years of probation, and Schwarzman can file for an evaluation after serving three years of her sentence.
"We think that it balances punishment and (we're) also trying to get the defendant some help so that she doesn't do something like this again," Shellenberger said. "Guilty pleas are often in these very emotional cases very good because there is some finality. It limits rights to appeal and it gives some closure."
It is expected the judge will accept the sentence in December.
The defense asked for a sentence of three years in prison.
Given the evidence of excessive speed, erratic driving, Schwarzman's knowledge of vehicle defects and drugs in her system, the state said she demonstrated grossly negligent conduct.