Starr Kiogima-McGill, the 28-year-old Grand Ledge woman who was charged with second-degree murder and drunk driving causing death for causing the accident that killed her 4-year-old daughter, has been found guilty, and is facing the possibility of life in prison.
The Eaton County Circuit Court jury only deliberated for about 45 minutes before deciding that McGill was indeed guilty. Her attorney has said that in her state of grief and devastation over the loss of her daughter, this verdict has not helped. But the details of the case are tragic, and no one expected a different outcome.
McGill’s daughter, Natalie, was killed in a drunk driving crash that happened on September 11th, 2013 on I-96 near West Saginaw Highway. McGill was highly intoxicated, with a blood alcohol limit at least three times Michigan’s legal limit of .08, when she lost control of her SUV on the highway on-ramp.
The Ford Expedition rolled over numerous times and little Natalie, who was seated in her Graco car seat in the back but most likely not buckled in, was thrown from the vehicle and killed when she hit the median.
In addition to the fact that the child was probably not restrained, and McGill was severely intoxicated, she was also apparently sleep deprived and tested positive for an unnamed anti-anxiety medication and Oxycontin, which is a narcotic pain reliever that can have hazardous side effects when combined with alcohol.
Also, according to the prosecution, McGill was travelling faster than the speed limit at the time of the accident. Her speed, combined with her exhaustion and intoxication were the reason for the accident.
However, Natalie’s death, according to the prosecution, was the result of the fact that she wasn’t restrained. The defense argued this point, bringing in their own expert to nay-say the prosecution’s expert, claiming that the child had indeed been restrained.
In the end, neither side could be prove without a doubt whether or not a seatbelt had been used. But, in light of all the other contributing factors, and the fact that, either way, Natalie is dead, rather sealed McGill’s fate.
McGill is scheduled for sentencing on January 20th. Because she was found guilty on both counts – second-degree murder and drunken driving causing death – she may end up in prison for life.