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


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.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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