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Woman Convicted for Causing Fatal Car Crash Seeks New Trial

by on February 12, 2015 11:44 AM

The Bellefonte woman convicted of murder after inhaling aerosol fumes and causing a fatal car crash wants a new trial.

Danielle Packer was convicted of murder, vehicular manslaughter and other serious charges last year, but her attorney says that the prosecutors intentionally withheld evidence during trial that would have helped Packer's case.

According to court documents, the prosecution consulted with a doctor while preparing for trial, who reportedly believed that the results of Packer's blood test were "woefully unimpressive" to prove that she was driving while impaired. The prosecution used the testimony of a different doctor at trial.

Danielle Lux, Packer's public defender, claims that was a violation of a supreme court precedent that requires prosecutors to produce all evidence relevant to a case, and is requesting a new trial.

In October, Packer was convicted for "huffing" aerosol fumes while behind the wheel back in August 2012 before causing a head-on accident. Twenty-five-year-old Penn State employee Matthew Snyder, the driver of the other car, was killed. According to the prosecutors in the case, Packer had a history of drug use and knew the risks associated with "huffing" and driving.

The court has not yet responded to the Feb. 2 request for a new trial.

This is not the first time that the Packer's attorney has objected to the way the prosecutors handled evidence during the trial.

In a pre-trial motion, Lux requested that the court keep the prosecutors from using several pieces of evidence during the trial that she claims prejudiced the jury against Packer.

Lux asked the court not to allow the use of "bloody, gruesome" photos from the accident scene, and to prevent the testimony of Snyder's wife, arguing that both "would unduly arouse and inflame the passions of the Jury, creating undue prejudice and hostility against defendant." The court ultimately allowed disallowed use of the photos, but allowed Synder's wife to testify.

Packer was sentenced to 10 to 20 years behind bars for third degree murder, homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence, aggravated assault, involuntary manslaughter, reckless endangerment and a number of traffic offenses.


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Michael Martin Garrett is a reporter and editor for who covers local government, the courts, the arts and writes the Keeping the Faith column. He's a Penn State alumnus, a published poet and the bassist in a local indie rock band.
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