Lawyers: Woman suffered seizure before crash deaths of 2 Warwick students

Lancaster

LITITZ, Pa. (WHTM) – Attorneys have asked a Lancaster County judge to dismiss all charges against a Mount Joy woman awaiting trial for a 2018 crash that killed two students near Warwick High School.

Debra S. Slaymaker-Walker “was not aware of, and not in control of her actions because she suffered from a seizure,” public defender Christopher Tallarico and assistant public defender Rian Thompson wrote in their petition to Judge Donald Totaro.

Slaymaker-Walker, 64, is charged with third-degree murder, vehicular homicide, aggravated assault, reckless endangerment, and fleeing and eluding regarding the October 2018 crash that killed 16-year-olds Jack Nicholson and Meghan Keeney, both Warwick juniors, and seriously injured a third student in the same car.

Police have said Slaymaker-Walker was driving 73 to 77 mph – three times the speed limit of 25 mph – when she tried to go around a line of stopped traffic on West Orange Street after school dismissed for the day. Her 2016 Kia Sportage became airborne and overturned on its roof after striking a 2013 Chevrolet Sonic containing the Warwick students.

Slaymaker-Walker was seriously injured in the collision, which involved six other vehicles.

Minutes earlier and about two miles away, police said they tried to stop Slaymaker-Walker for reckless driving, but she accelerated and refused to stop. A pursuit was terminated for safety reasons.

Before traveling into Lititz, Slaymaker-Walker struck the back of a school bus with students on Route 772 in Warwick Township and did not stop, police said. No one was injured.

Her attorneys say Slaymaker-Walker’s medical records detail a history of seizure disorder. They said consulting experts for the defense and the prosecution agree that Slaymaker-Walker’s behavior and driving “was the result of a seizure or post-seizure state of confusion and that she was not aware of, nor in control, of her actions.”

Prosecutors have presented no theory on Slaymaker-Walker’s motive or state of mind. Police have said she has claimed to have no recollection of the crash.

Totaro has ordered a response from the district attorney’s office. Unless charges are dismissed, the trial is scheduled to begin May 4.

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