A Weatherford teen Wednesday pleaded guilty in the hit-and-run death of a 58-year-old Poolville woman last year.
Morgan Rae Lopatesky, 17, was convicted of leaving the scene of an accident causing serious bodily injury or death, a second degree felony.
Lopatesky received a 10-year prison sentence and a $2,000 fine, with the intention that in almost six months, contingent on good behavior and approval by the judge, Lopatesky be released on shock probation.
Marla Carroll, 58, of Poolville, was struck around 10 p.m. Aug. 11 by a pickup truck while walking into the Hudson Oaks Wal-Mart store, where she worked as a cashier.
The truck drove away without stopping, according to Hudson Oaks police.
Carroll was taken by helicopter to a hospital in Fort Worth, where she later died due to head injuries sustained in the crash,
About two hours after Carroll was struck, Lopatesky and her mother approached police and identified Lopatesky as the driver who hit Carroll, police reported.
No alcohol could be detected in her blood after it was drawn some hours later, according to the district attorney’s office, who said Lopatesky had her learner’s permit at the time.
Lopatesky, 16 at the of the incident, was certified to stand trial as an adult in the case.
Under the plea arrangement, Lopatesky would be on probation for 10 years and be required to serve 90 days in jail (including the date of the crash, Carroll’s birthday, Lopatesky’s birthday and holidays), attend an annual victim impact panel with Mothers Against Drunk Driving, complete 600 hours of community service, write a 2,000 word essay, undergo an alcohol and drug assessment and complete any required treatment, according to Assistant District Attorney Jeff Swain.
“The reason you are here is because of the choices you made,” 43rd District Judge Craig Towson told the teen Wednesday.
Lopatesky wiped her eyes during the statements from family members following her guilty plea.
“We have not forgiven you but we sure hope you learned your lesson and you learn to choose your friends wisely,” Carroll’s step-daughter, Adele Sewall, said. “You have no idea how bad it’s hurt our father.”
“My sister never had any children of her own, Morgan, but I think it’s important for you to know that she was a mother to many,” Carroll’s sister, Dawn Edmonds, told Lopatesky Wednesday. “The stories we continue to hear from countless lives she has touched never cease to amaze me or my family. She was source of counsel for many, always there to listen and offer advice and never to pass judgement. My sweet sister Marla never thought that any person was any less than any other person.”
Edmonds said many Wal-Mart customers would wait just to check out in Carroll’s line.
“A very bright light was extinguished on Aug. 11 when you made the choices that brought us together in this courtroom today,” Edmonds said. “When I think of what my 80-year-old mother’s going through, it’s simply heartbreaking.”
“Your actions and your failure to exercise basic human decency have destroyed my family,” Edmonds continued. “You were selfish and completely irresponsible. It’s not just that you took my sister’s life, but that you knowingly left her to die in a parking lot.”
“I want you to remember her name: Marla Zane,” Carroll’s mother wrote in a statement read to Lopatesky. “Don’t ever forget her. She was beautiful. She had a good heart. Your foolish actions and irresponsibility took her from us.”
The family questioned whether alcohol was the reason Lopatesky left the scene.
“We wonder if alcohol was the reason you were driving so recklessly in a parking lot of a place where so many people shop with their families to begin with,” Edmonds said. “We cannot help but wonder if this entire nightmare could have been avoided and we think that these are awful questions that you know the answers to.”
“We hope that you use the time to transform yourself into someone who, when released, will make a positive difference on this earth,” Edmonds said about Lopatesky’s time in prison. “Someone who will be a source of goodness rather than destruction.
“You owe society an attempt to replace her as best you can,” Edmonds told Lopatesky.