A Maryland man did not commit homicide when he caused a 2009 crash in Lower Chanceford Township that killed two people, including a 4-year-old Amish girl, and badly injured her parents.
It took jurors 8-1/2 hours over two days to reach their verdict, which was read in court about 12:45 p.m. Friday.
They found John Edward Epps not guilty of two counts of homicide by vehicle and four counts of reckless endangerment.
After dismissing jurors, presiding Common Pleas Judge John S. Kennedy found Epps, 42, of Gwynn Oak, not guilty of overtaking a vehicle, but guilty of speeding and careless driving. Kennedy fined Epps $25 for each of the two summary offenses.
"Thank God for the outcome today," Epps told The York Dispatch. "My sorrow, grief and apology go out to the families of (the victims)."
Civil matter? His State College-based defense attorney, Philip Masorti, also expressed sympathy for the families of Katie Fisher, 4, of Lower Chanceford Township, and Brian Richardson, 38, of Airville.
"I thought the matter should more appropriately be resolved in civil court," he said.
Epps was not drunk or high at the time of the crash and wasn't texting or on his cell phone, the evidence showed. However, he was going 62 mph or 63 mph in a 55 mph zone.
Chief deputy prosecutor Tim Barker said despite the outcome, he's happy he took the case to trial.
"We knew the issue was going to come down to the definition of recklessness," he said. "The law in this area is not easy whatsoever."
He described such vehicular homicide cases as challenging and said juries deciding them must wrestle with tough issues.
"We fought what I think is the appropriate fight," Barker said.
The background: Richardson was driving Katie and her parents, Steven and Mattie Fisher, to see friends about 5:30 p.m. Dec. 23, 2009, and had stopped his minivan on Route 74, waiting to turn left onto Slab Road.
His minivan was rear-ended by the ADT work truck Epps was driving, causing the minivan to crash into an embankment.
Both Steven and Mattie Fisher were critically injured, police said; Epps escaped with minor injuries.
The prosecution argued Epps was driving recklessly and was grossly negligent because he drove with "careless disregard for the safety of (others)."
The Fishers are suing ADT for the crash, according to Barker, and Richardson's family reached an out-of-court settlement with the company.
-- Liz Evans Scolforo can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.