Guilty plea entered in crash that killed mother, unborn baby

SUFFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — A 79-year-old woman entered an Alford Plea Friday on a charge of involuntary manslaughter, after her alleged reckless driving led to a crash that killed a woman and her unborn baby.

Prosecutors say Pauline Austin was swerving in and out of traffic and cutting drivers off in the moments before the crash December 12 on Route 460 at Old Myrtle Road.

Witness statements say Austin was driving “crazy” and “erratic” before she clipped 38-year-old Michelle Acree’s Jeep, forcing her off the road and into oncoming traffic.

“It’s been nine months, and it’s been a lot to go through, unbearable, at times,” Austin told outside court Friday. “My husband can tell you, it’s been rough on him, as well as me and my family.”

Austin entered an Alford Plea in Suffolk Circuit Court, which means the defendant believes the state has enough evidence to convict her of involuntary manslaughter.

“No one hates it happening any worse than I do,” Austin said. “I’m not a bad person. I have lived, or tried to live, right. I am a good driver. I have never been involved in anything else.”

Acree died at a local hospital about two hours after the crash. A 25-year-old man driving in a separate vehicle was badly injured.

“She is a sweet lady, and this was obviously a horrible event,” said defense attorney Jon Babineau. “Everyday she thinks of what happened, the loss of life and the injuries that occurred as a result of the accident and as a result of her driving.”

Austin will be sentenced for her alleged involvement in the crash November 16.

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