PHILADELPHIA — A man has been acquitted of vehicular homicide but convicted of manslaughter and reckless endangerment in the hit-and-run death of an 8-year-old girl a year ago in Philadelphia.
Jurors deliberated for seven hours over two days before reaching the mixed verdict Friday in the case against Paul Woodlyn III, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. He is to be sentenced Jan. 19.
Prosecutors said Jayanna Powell was walking home from school with her siblings in November 2016 when she was struck crossing in intersection in the Overbrook neighborhood. The car also knocked her 12-year-old brother to the ground.
Authorities matched fragments from the crash to Woodlyn’s car at a suburban auto body shop. He pleaded guilty at the start of his trial Tuesday to a felony charge of leaving the scene of a fatal accident.
Woodlyn, 25, testified Wednesday that the car in front of him in the right lane was stopped, so he drove around the car and went through the intersection in the left lane.
“I didn’t see the kids,” he said. Once he saw them, he couldn’t avoid them, and he hit the brakes “but it was too late.”
“I just closed my eyes,” he said. “After the impact, I just panicked and I left. … I didn’t deliberately hit anyone.”
Assistant District Attorney Erica Rebstock said Woodlyn wasn’t charged with deliberately hitting someone but with driving recklessly and speeding, causing the second-grader’s death.
Woodlyn’s car hit Jayanna with such force that part of its front grill fell off, and the child was thrown 100 feet away, Rebstock said.
Jayanna and her brother “shouldn’t have been mowed down by this man driving like a maniac,” she told jurors.
Defense attorney Benjamin Cooper called the child’s death “an accident.”
“He left the scene, we all know that,” Cooper said. “That’s not cool at all. The question here is whether or not he committed a homicide.”
Information from: The Philadelphia Inquirer, http://www.inquirer.com