CRIME

Maria Werts pleads guily to hitting, killing Emmajean Gainey

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A Washington woman who admitted to drinking and smoking crack cocaine before hitting and killing a person with her car in April pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter Tuesday.

Emmajean Gainey, 58, was killed in the crash on April 28. (Family photo)

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Maria N. Werts, 49, entered the plea less than a month after she struck and killed 58-year-old Emmajean Gainey while she walked on the sidewalk on South Capitol Street in Southwest. She'll be sentenced on July 26.

The plea agreement will lead to Werts spending seven years in prison.

The crash happened at about 2:45 p.m. on April 28. Prosecutors say that Werts had been drinking malt liquor and smoking crack before getting behind the wheel of her car. A short time later, while driving on First Street Southwest, Werts ran a red light and made an illegal right turn onto South Capitol.

Werts then lost control of the car, drove up onto the sidewalk and hit Gainey head-on. The impact pinned Gainey against a tree, killing her instantly. At the time, though, Werts told police that she was only a passenger in the car that hit the victim.

Neighbors said after the crash that Gainey was a beloved figure in the Southwest Washington neighborhood where she lived.

"She was sweet and kind. Everybody loved her," Gainey's granddaughter, Porche, said previously.

Antonio Rogers, Gainey's son, was in court when Werts pleaded guilty.

“My mom – my mom was everything to me,” he says.

Gainey was raising her deceased daughters’ four children, ages 12 to 18. Now, Rogers says he’ll take care of the children.

“I got to them, my sister's kids. I ain't got no choice,” he says. “It's all about sacrificing for your family, you know, you got to do it."

Rogers works at Domino’s Pizza and also takes care of an autistic brother. He also isn’t happy about Werts’ plea.

"Seven years, is not more than a slap on the wrist," he says.

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