LA PLATA, MD— In a development that brings closure to a tragic case, Joseph Eugene Penn, 43, of Bryans Road, pleaded guilty to Negligent Vehicular Manslaughter of Inga Person on September 13, 2023. The guilty plea was entered in the Charles County Circuit Court before the Honorable Judge William R. Greer, Jr.
The incident occurred on January 20, 2022, when an officer near Smallwood Village Center and St. Charles Parkway attempted to conduct a traffic stop on a Toyota Camry operated by Penn. Penn accelerated and fled into a nearby parking lot, ignoring the officer’s signals. He subsequently re-entered St. Charles Parkway, reaching a high rate of speed.
As Penn continued to evade the police, another officer observed him lose control of his vehicle near the intersection of St. Marks Drive. The vehicle veered off the left side of the road and collided with multiple trees. Person was ejected from the vehicle during the crash and suffered fatal injuries.
After the collision, Penn was seen exiting the vehicle and fleeing into a wooded area. Emergency Medical Services arrived at the scene but could not save Person, who was pronounced deceased.
Police later located Penn in a nearby neighborhood and transported him to the hospital for minor injuries sustained during the crash. During the subsequent investigation, Penn admitted to fleeing from the officer because he had open arrest warrants and had recently ingested cocaine. Penn had outstanding warrants for failing to appear in court on a charge of Theft over $25,000 at the time of the incident.
Tony Covington, State’s Attorney for Charles County, announced the guilty plea on Wednesday, adding that Penn is scheduled for sentencing on October 25, 2023, at 1:30 p.m. He faces a maximum sentence of up to ten years in prison for the charge of Negligent Vehicular Manslaughter.
The case highlights the significant risks of evading law enforcement, especially at high speeds, and serves as a grim reminder of the potential human cost of such actions. It also emphasizes the responsibilities of vehicle operators to comply with law enforcement directives for the safety of all road users.