A 23-year-old Guthrie woman faced a Logan County judge on Thursday afternoon in front a full court room. She was formally charged with first-degree manslaughter following a fiery car accident that killed a Guthrie woman now over two years ago.
On Feb. 9, 2014, Paige Powell was driving back to Guthrie from Stillwater in her 2013 Dodge Charger southbound on Highway 77 in the early morning hours. Also, in the vehicle was 24-year-old Maryah Sanchez.
According to a probable cause affidavit, while at the scene near County Road 70 in Mulhall, Powell told a trooper with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol (OHP) she noticed a deer standing in the roadway and swerved to the right to avoid contact. In doing so, the vehicle departed the roadway to the right, striking a tree and catching fire. Powell was able to escape the smoke and flames, but Sanchez, the passenger, was unable to do so and died at the scene just before 5 a.m.
Powell, who did not speak during the hearing, pleaded not guilty and was given an OR (own recognizance) bond. The case has been set for a preliminary hearing on June 30 at 9 a.m. On one side of the courtroom, several people were seen wearing green shirts with “Justice For Maryah” in white letters surrounding a heart and the date of the accident. On the other side of the large courtroom was Powell’s family and friends.
Powell’s attorney Scott Adams said he did not want to comment completely on the case, but told Guthrie News Page the situation is tragic for everyone involved and this was not a criminal act.
Prosecuting the case is Kay County District Attorney Brian Hermanson, who elected to file the charges following an investigation by OHP. The previous district attorney for Logan County, Tom Lee, disqualified his office from the case.
The trooper, who was dispatched to the scene at 4:57 a.m., reports during his initial interview with Powell, he noted an odor of alcohol on her breath. Powell stated, “I’ll admit I’ve had five beers.”
The trooper further stated, Powell gave no other indications of being intoxicated. She was later taken to a hospital for a blood draw, which occurred at 8:30 a.m. and was later released on her own.
In a second interview later in the day (1:10 p.m.), Powell told the same trooper she had a beer at a Stillwater restaurant around 7:30 p.m. and afterwards consumed three to four more beers at a Stillwater bar. After leaving the bar between 1 and 1:30 a.m., she drove to a friend’s house where she said, “I had a couple of sips of Maryah’s beer” and left a friend’s house between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m.
In the affidavit, the trooper says he received the results of the blood draw on April 29, 2014, which showed a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .038 percent.
Oklahoma driving under the influence (DUI) laws prohibit the use of a vehicle with a BAC of .08 or higher. Motorists are considered driving while impaired if found driving with a BAC between 0.05 percent and .08 percent.