Jayana Webb, the alleged drunk driver who police say plowed into and killed two Pennsylvania state troopers and the pedestrian they were trying to help along Interstate 95 this spring, was held for trial Wednesday, but the judge dismissed a third-degree murder charge against the woman.
Webb will face trial, and decades in prison if convicted, in the deaths of troopers Martin Mack III and Branden Sisca and pedestrian Reyes Rivera Oliveras, after Municipal Court of Philadelphia Judge Karen Y. Simmons rendered her decision after a daylong preliminary hearing Wednesday that includes several witnesses and experts.
The fatal crash occurred on Monday, March 21 as the two troopers were helping Oliveras on Interstate 95 in the area of Philadelphia's sport stadiums around 12:40 a.m. Oliveras was walking on the interstate, according to Troop K Commander James Kemm.
Mack, 33, lived in Bristol Borough with his wife, Stephanie, who attended Wednesday's hearing, and two daughters. Sisca, 29, of Trappe, Montgomery County, was a fire chief who was recently married and expecting his first child with his wife at the time of the crash.
After the Commonwealth presented its case with testimony from eye witness and expert investigators, Simmons said there was enough evidence to hold Webb, 21, for homicide by vehicle while DUI, homicide by vehicle, as well as two counts of second-degree manslaughter of a law enforcement officer, along with misdemeanor offenses of involuntary manslaughter, recklessly endangering another person and DUI and several summary traffic citations.
Simmons dismissed the three third-degree murder charges against Webb, citing insufficient evidence.
After Simmons' decision, Philadelphia District Attorney spokesperson Jane Roh confirmed third-degree murder charges were refiled against Webb. She offered no other comment.
The Pennsylvania State Troopers Association blasted the judge's decision in a statement Thursday.
"Our investigators did an amazing job," Association President David Kennedy said in a statement. "There was absolutely no testimony during yesterday's hearing that should've led to the dismissal of the most serious charge.
"Dismissing these charges sends another message to criminals that you can literally get away with murder. Once these charges are refiled by the district attorney’s office, it’s our hope a top prosecutor will be assigned to this case.
"Everything must be done to ensure justice is served for these brave troopers and their grieving families."
Webb, of Norristown in Montgomery County, wept several times as a string of witnesses spoke about seeing her drive recklessly on I-95 before the accident. Testimony also uncovered that Webb was pulled over for speeding prior to the fatal crash, but wasn't issued a ticket and was allowed to continue driving.
"I told my father to pull over so I could render some assistance" to the three individuals, said Anna Moryc, a registered nurse who was a passenger in a car that Webb allegedly passed at a high rate of speed before plowing into the trio. "The individuals were thrown to the north side of the highway. I saw their bodies."
Moryc said she then checked for vital signs on all three, and didn't find any.
"I then looked for the other SUV, which was significantly up the road."
An expert toxicologist testified that Webb had a blood alcohol content of .211 and marijuana in her system, was speeding and sending a tweet to social media platform Twitter at the time of the crash. Felicia Robinson, another witness who is also a registered nurse, said she smelled alcohol on Webb when she went to render aid after seeing the crash.
Webb, dressed in black slacks, black sweater and a white collared shirt, cried and looked away when Assistant District Attorney Jessica Chung introduced testimony from crash recreation experts and played a video of the aftereffects of the crash and an accident recreation clip.
The court also viewed surveillance video of the moment of impact, obtained from Lincoln Financial Field.
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Webb's loved ones filled up the right side of the gallery, while the family of the fallen troopers and the pedestrian filled up the right side. Dozens upon dozens of state troopers lined the hallway and lobby of the Juanita Kidd Stout Center for Criminal Justice in downtown Philadelphia.
Webb didn't interact much with her loved ones behind the glass partition, appearing to only briefly look at them.
Simmons cautioned all parties about being respectful toward each other and allowed the troopers and the Mack, Sicsa and Oliveras families to exit before Webb's supporters were allowed to leave.
Of Webb's supporters was her mother, who cried and wiped away tears throughout the hearing.
After Simmons rendered her decision to hold Webb, Chung suggested the court "set a high bail" of $3 million.
Webb "is facing 9 to 18 years minimum, and for that reason she is a flight risk," Chung said. "The seriousness of these charges and allegations" call for a higher bond.
Walker argued that Webb has no other prior contact with police, lives with her mother and owns her own budding hairstyling business.
"This young lady is not a flight risk," Walker said. "She is not going anywhere and is not a danger to society."
Simmons said state laws stipulate that she must set a bail in accordance to the law and what Webb can realistically pay, before setting bail at $200,000 for each of the three consolidated counts against her.
Webb's mother and immediate family members in the first few rows cried at the decision and again at the end of the bail hearing, while the families of the victims and the troopers remained stoic before quietly filing out of packed courtroom.
Webb is set to be arraigned at 11 am on on July 13.
This article originally appeared on Bucks County Courier Times: Jayana Webb held for trial in crash that killed 2 PA state troopers