The Georgia Court of Appeals affirmed a woman’s conviction Wednesday of first-degree homicide by vehicle and other charges after she crashed her car into a group of cyclists and killed a University of Georgia graduate student in 2016, according to a press release from Athens-Clarke County’s acting district attorney Brian Patterson.
On Sept. 12, 2016, Whitney Howard was driving her Jeep under the influence of a combination of six prescription drugs with her 2-year-old daughter in the car when she failed to maintain her lane on Athena Drive and struck UGA student Ashley Block, who was riding a bicycle, as well as two other cyclists. Block died at the scene, and one of the other cyclists was seriously injured.
When police arrived, they noticed Howard appeared impaired. A field sobriety test conducted at the police department and a toxicology analysis of her blood suggested she was “abusing” prescription drugs, which rendered her unsafe to operate a motor vehicle, according to the release.
On Oct. 31, 2017, a jury found Howard guilty of two counts of first-degree homicide by vehicle, six counts of serious injury by vehicle and one count each of driving under the influence of drugs, failure to maintain lane and endangering a child while driving under the influence. Judge Eric Norris sentenced her to 25 years in prison and 6 years probation.
Howard filed a motion for a new trial on Dec. 4, 2017, and an amended motion on June 4, 2019. Norris denied Howard’s request for a new trial on Oct. 23, 2019. Her latest appeal was on a claim of ineffective counsel, according to the release.