LA PLATA, MD— Tony Covington, State’s Attorney for Charles County, announced that on Tuesday, October 30, 2018, Charles County Circuit Court Judge Amy J. Bragunier sentenced Daniel Juwan Butler to 6 years in prison and 5 years supervised probation for the vehicular slaying of Taylor Halbleib. Butler, 23 of Newberg, previously entered a guilty plea to the Negligent Vehicular Manslaughter of Halbleib on August 30, 2018.
During the early morning hours of December 7, 2017, troopers from the Maryland State Police responded to the area of Route 6 in La Plata, west of Cooksey Road, for the report of a multi-vehicle collision. Upon arrival, troopers located Butler and a passenger who was traveling in his vehicle, both conscious and emitting a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage.
Troopers also discovered Halbleib, who was unresponsive, trapped in her vehicle that had extensive damage on both sides, with the vehicle’s rear being pushed into the rear passenger compartment. After being treated on scene, Butler and Halbleib were transported to the University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Center for treatment. Unfortunately, Halbleib succumbed to her injuries. Butler survived his injuries. The passenger of Butler’s vehicle was transported to Prince George’s Hospital Center by helicopter and also survived his injuries.
An investigation into the collision revealed that Halbleib, a 21-year-old student at the College of Southern Maryland, had left work prior to the collision and was operating a Hyundai Elantra traveling eastbound on Route 6. Halbleib’s vehicle came to a complete stop at a red light. There was one vehicle, a Honda Odyssey, ahead of Halbleib that was at a complete stop at the red light as well.
Butler, who was driving a Ford F-150, was also traveling eastbound, but failed to slow down and stop for the red light, slamming into Halbleib’s vehicle at almost 70 miles per hour. The impact of the collision forced Halbleib’s vehicle into the Honda Odyssey in front of her. Halbleib’s vehicle then began to spin, eventually settling in a north westerly position on the eastbound shoulder. Butler’s vehicle veered off the roadway into the woods. The driver of the Honda Odyssey was uninjured and left the scene of the accident with her vehicle, but later returned. Halbleib, however, suffered extensive injuries, including a broken neck, broken back, and crushed organs.
Further investigation revealed that Butler and his passenger had been drinking heavily throughout the night at a bar in La Plata. The two men then purchased and consumed more beer at a bar/liquor store in La Plata where Halbleib worked. After closing, Butler and his passenger continued drinking outside of the bar. When Halbleib left work for the evening, Butler harassed her before she left in her vehicle. Butler followed her vehicle from her employment until he rammed into the back of her vehicle with his Ford F-150. Multiple open cans of beer and liquor were located inside of Butler’s vehicle at the scene.
A blood test was conducted on Butler which revealed a .20 blood alcohol level which is two and a half times the legal limit.
During sentencing, in a courtroom packed with over 100 family and friends of the victim, Assistant State’s Attorney Francis Granados, the lead prosecutor on the case, told the judge, “the justice system does not treat fatal collisions serious enough. And nothing can be more serious than this case. What is a more violent way to die than being crushed by a truck that’s going 70 miles per hour? How terrifying must it have been for Taylor to see her killer coming and not be able to do anything about it. This case is so egregious that the defendant deserves the maximum sentence of ten years. Mercy is for those who make mistakes, not for those who willfully do wrong. This was anything but a mistake. He chose to do it. Again, he deserves the maximum sentence this Court can give. – If the sentence you impose can save one life and save another family from the horror and pain that Taylor’s family has endured and will endure for a lifetime, wouldn’t it be worth it? The community is waiting. Please do the right thing.”
Before imposing her sentence on Butler, Judge Bragunier said, “On the night Taylor was killed, you were anything but a nice person. The last 20 minutes of [the victim’s] life were pure terror. – You knew better and should’ve known better seeing as though you were an EMT and volunteer firefighter.”
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