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For now, DUI charges dismissed in fatal pedestrian crash

Spencer Prigmore

Spencer Prigmore

LAWRENCEVILLE — At least for now, DUI charges have been dismissed against the Lilburn driver accused of killing a mother and daughter walking along Lawrenceville Highway.

Spencer Todd Prigmore, donning a standard-issue green jail jumpsuit, entered the magistrate courtroom of Judge Bob Mitchum cautiously Thursday. The 43-year-old, dark wavy hair combed but disheveled, strode lightly before taking a seat next to defense attorney Tom West. He took calming, meditative breaths, looking chiefly at the floor throughout a 45-minute hearing.

During that hearing, Lilburn Police Officer Andy Blimline detailed the believed happenings of the evening of July 18:

— Prigmore was driving his Ford pickup west on Lawrenceville Highway with passenger Maria Vitela when, at about 6:30 p.m., he shifted from the inside lane to the outside one, “barely clipping” a Ford Excursion.

— According to multiple witnesses, the pickup truck proceeded with his outward swing, jumping a curb near Harbins Road, crossing a small grassy area and continuing onto the sidewalk.

— Maria Alicia Cervantes Maldonado, 36, and 6-year-old daughter Melissa Paola Cervantes, walking east on the sidwalk, were struck and killed near a driveway for Calvary Baptist Church.

— Prigmore reportedly continued to drive about a quarter-mile down the road, stopping in the parking lot of a title loan facility. When police arrived, he was “hysterical and crying” and had the physical manifestations of being under the influence of drugs, Blimline said.

West, gray ponytail resting on the collar of his seersucker suit, grilled Blimline as members of both families involved — Prigmore and Maldonado — wept openly in the same row of the gallery. By the end of the hearing, felony charges of vehicular homicide (two counts), hit and run and failure to return to the scene were bound over to Gwinnett County Superior Court.

The charge of DUI-drugs was not.

Arguing that Prigmore’s post-incident reaction of tears and hysteria could’ve been the product of the fact “he just ran over two people,” West pointed to the lack of hard evidence on the charge.

“There’s absolutely no evidence that my client was under the influence of drugs,” West said.

Assistant District Attorney David Keeton admitted that the DUI charge was “sketchy until we get the forensics.” Prigmore denied sobriety tests at the scene, but blood was drawn and sent to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s crime lab for analysis. Authorities believe he was under the influence of drugs but are unsure which.

Blimline testified that a colleague reported “smelling narcotics” in Prigmore’s truck. No drugs or paraphernalia were discovered in the vehicle.

Charges can be added, re-added or subtracted from a case following a probable cause hearing, typically via indictment at a later date.

Janice Hayes, Prigmore’s mother, took the stand Thursday as West made his unsuccessful case for Prigmore to be granted bond. Crying, Hayes said she and Prigmore lived in the same home on Five Forks-Trickum Road that her parents had occupied for 63 years.

“If the judge told him to stay there at the house forever, he’d stay there,” she said.

Judge Mitchum denied bond anyway, calling Prigmore a danger to the community. Prigmore’s ex-wife and daughter were also present Thursday.

The sister of Maldonado, the victim, was at Thursday’s hearing alongside several friends and family members. They declined comment.