Klingensmith
Klingensmith

Jurors deadlocked on whether a Penn Township man is guilty of vehicular homicide for causing a crash that killed his passenger, forcing the presiding York County judge to declare a mistrial Thursday afternoon.

Justin Klingensmith, 20, of Blooming Grove Road, remains charged with homicide by vehicle and related offenses for the May 10, 2011, crash that killed Melissa Allison.

The 24-year-old woman was pronounced dead at the scene.

Neither was wearing a seat belt, police have said.

"I'll take a fresh look at the evidence and the (trial) transcript again," then determine whether to take the case to trial for a second time, senior deputy prosecutor Jared Mellott said.

Mellott alleges Klingensmith "disregarded the signs of drowsiness and continued to drive despite the warning signs."

Reckless? He argued to jurors it was reckless and grossly negligent of Klingensmith to ignore those warning signs. That alleged recklessness and negligence makes it vehicular homicide, Mellott maintains.

Defense attorney Frank Arcuri said it's disheartening to try a case, only to have it end in a mistrial.

"But it is heartening to see jurors willing to stick to their guns," Arcuri said. "It speaks well of the jurors and it speaks well of the jury system."

Arcuri maintains the crash was an accident, not a crime.

Klingensmith wasn't intoxicated and wasn't speeding, and there was no evidence of erratic driving, Arcuri said.

Court documents indicate Klingensmith told police he thought he fell asleep behind the wheel.


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The background: The crash happened in the 5700 block of Blooming Grove Road, near the Skyview Drive intersection and in front of Manheim Elementary School, Southwestern Regional Police said.

Klingensmith was driving his 1997 Ford F-150 pickup truck westbound when it veered into the opposing lane of traffic and went off the road, crashing head-on into a large tree without braking, according to police.

The truck was going about 45 mph at the time, Mellott said.

Mellott told jurors Klingensmith had just met Allison at a party and the two of them decided to drive around.

"According to Klingensmith's times, (he) had been awake for approx. 18 hours at the time of the accident," documents state.

-- Staff writer Liz Evans Scolforo can also be reached at levans@yorkdispatch.com.