Not guilty plea given in fatal car crash

Wednesday, February 15, 2006 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 7:42 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 9, 2008

A Columbia woman pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a charge of involuntary manslaughter stemming from a Nov. 27 car crash.

According to a probable cause statement, Martha Lee Miller, 38, was arrested on suspicion of involuntary manslaughter and endangering the welfare of a child after her 1995 Ford Explorer crossed the center line on Broadway near Scott Boulevard and struck a car head-on, killing 34-year-old Richard Greenplate. Miller’s two nieces, ages 10 and 15, were in the car with her at the time but were not seriously injured, the statement said.

“The only charge against her at this time is involuntary manslaughter,” Assistant Prosecutor Chastidy Dillon-Amelung said. Involuntary manslaughter is a felony and must be charged alone in associate circuit court, she said. However, it is possible for other charges to be added, Dillon-Amelung said.

At the time of the crash, Miller’s driver’s license was suspended, and she was on administrative alcohol suspension for a DWI last August, which she had been convicted of 17 days before the crash that killed Greenplate.

In the probable cause statement, Miller told police she had been drinking that night, and Breathalyzer and blood tests confirmed her blood alcohol content was above the legal limit.

In a letter to Judge Jodie Asel, Miller said she had been drinking but that she did not think she was drunk. She said she had about four beers and 2½ mixed drinks in just over a three-hour period after celebrating her mother’s birthday.

In the letter, Miller expressed regret to the court and to Greenplate’s family.

“I have been wanting to let his family know that I am sorry about what happened,” she wrote in the letter. But she went on to say that she had not apologized to the victim’s family on the advice of her attorney.

Dillon-Amelung said she could not comment on the details of the letter because it is considered evidence in the case.

Miller’s trial date had not been set as of Tuesday.

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