Woman gets jail in fatal DUI crash; son, 3, ejected from vehicle
A Chester woman, who crashed her vehicle along the turnpike in Carbon County while under the influence of drugs and killing her son, was sentenced to a county prison term on Friday.
Judge Joseph J. Matika sentenced Lasheira Michelle Johnson, 38, to serve nine to one day less 24 months in prison on a charge of involuntary manslaughter, telling her, “There is no greater sentence I can impose on you than the one you already imposed on yourself.”
On July 20, 2015, Johnson was operating a vehicle northbound on the turnpike in Mahoning Township when she lost control. There were five people in the vehicle at the time. State police at Pocono said the vehicle rolled over twice. Johnson’s son, Lanir Johnson, 3, was partially ejected from the vehicle and was pronounced dead at the scene.
Johnson and others who were injured were taken to the Lehigh Valley Hospital, Cedar Crest, for treatment. Troopers obtained a search warrant and secured blood test results on Johnson. Those results show she had illegal drugs in her system including cocaine and marijuana.
Defense Attorney Michael J. Malloy, told the court Johnson had a drug addiction problem and since the tragic accident she has addressed it.
He said she has come a long way, able to win back the custody of her other children who were in foster care.
Johnson told the court she had come to the area to see one of her brothers, who she had not seen in some time. She also said she was homeless at one time and now has been able to get her own home.
“I’m very sorry for what happened, and I know it is my fault.”
District Attorney Jean A. Engler, who prosecuted the case, said she and Malloy fashioned a plea agreement to fit the crime. She said she realized the tragic circumstances of the case but added that there must be punishment handed out. She said from the beginning Johnson had accepted full responsibility for what had happened.
Matika told Johnson, “I know this was a tragic event in your life, something you must live with the rest of your life.”
He said, “Your conduct that day, because of your drug problem, ended your son’s life.”
The prison term will be followed by three years and 21 days of probation. On a DUI charge, Matika sentenced her to serve 72 hours to six months in prison, a fine of $1,000 and a one-year license suspension. The jail terms run concurrently.
She was also ordered to render a total of 200 hours of community service when paroled, get both drug and alcohol and mental health evaluations, zero tolerance for drug and alcohol use, pay court costs of about $1,000 and pay a $50 per month supervision fee while on parole and probation.
She began the prison term immediately.