Lawyers for a Key West woman who killed a pedestrian near the mile marker 1 sign on state road A1A in 2015 by driving her car onto the sidewalk is no murderer despite what prosecutors have charged, according to a court motion filed this month.
April Thomason, 44, is charged with second-degree murder for the death of Verna Stephanie Collins by crashing a black Mercedes into the popular dental hygienist on Sept. 16, 2015, by leaving a parking space on South Roosevelt Boulevard by driving onto the sidewalk; and two counts of attempted second-degree murder for nearly hitting two other people.
Ian McNabe was able to jump out of the way and bicyclist Jorge Canedo was able to swerve to safety. But Collins was struck and later pronounced dead at Ryder Trauma Center in Miami.
Collins, 49, of Cudjoe Key was remembered as a fixture at Dr. Claude Harris’ dental practice in Key West and locals later held a memorial service to celebrate her life.
Thomason didn’t stop after striking Collins that day, police said, but was detained by two bicyclists. She later told Key West police she had a seizure and wasn’t drinking that day.
Two days before the fatal crash, Thomason posted on her Facebook page, “I AM ASKING FOR PRAYERS PLEASE. DETOX. DAY 5.”
A toxicology report later showed the presence of a painkiller in Thomason’s system but didn’t give an amount or conclude she was under the influence.
Thomason told police she had been at nearby Smathers Beach that day “praying to God.”
No one, not even Thomason, disputes she was the one who killed Collins that day.
But her public defenders, in a Feb. 3 motion to dismiss, argue the charge hardly fits the facts of the case since nothing shows Thomason deliberately drove her car into Collins, who was walking with a friend that evening.
A hearing is set for March 7 before Judge Wayne Miller at the Monroe County Courthouse. Thomason remains at the Stock Island Detention Center on $400,000 bond.
“The state cannot prove Ms. Thomason’s actions were imminently dangerous and done with a deprived mind because there is no evidence the actions were done with ill will, hatred, spite or evil intent,” Assistant Public Defender Kevin McCarthy wrote in the eight-page motion.
In Florida, second-degree murder requires prosecutors to show the death was caused by a criminal act and was done by someone “demonstrating a depraved mind without regard for human life.”
Thomason worked at the Rick's/Durty Harry's bar complex, 202 Duval St. She was initially arrested for negligent homicide.
Gwen Filosa: @KeyWestGwen