A Baltimore County judge on Wednesday ordered one of two drivers who are charged in a crash on Interstate 695 that killed six construction workers to be released on home detention while she awaits trial.
Circuit Judge Vicki Ballou-Watts stated that while she understood that the charges against Lisa Adrienne Lea, 54, of Randallstown, are serious, the purpose of bail is to ensure that people show up in court and protect public safety.
Lea, the judge noted, experiences heath issues. She will not be allowed to drive and can only leave the house to attend doctor appointments, legal meetings and religious services. The Motor Vehicle Administration already indefinitely suspended her driver’s license several weeks after the crash.
“She should have been released originally,” said William “Billy” Murphy Jr., one of Lea’s attorneys, outside the courtroom. “And this judge corrected that today.”
Lea is charged with manslaughter and related offenses in the crash, which happened at about 12:30 p.m. on March 22 on the inner loop of I-695 near I-70. She tried to move into the passing lane and hit a car, Maryland State Police reported.
Next, Lea spun out of control, traveled through an opening in concrete barriers that separate a work zone from the rest of the highway and struck and killed six construction workers, police reported. She was later taken to the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center at the University of Maryland.
Police identified the construction workers who were killed in the crash as Rolando Ruiz, 46, of Laurel; Carlos Orlando Villatoro Escobar, 43, of Frederick; Jose Armando Escobar, 52, of Frederick; Mahlon Simmons III, 31, of Union Bridge; Mahlon Simmons II, 52, of Union Bridge; and Sybil Lee DiMaggio, 46, of Glen Burnie.
A Baltimore Banner analysis found that there were only 12 other crashes in work zones between 1980 and 2020 that resulted in more deaths in the United States.
The other driver, Melachi Duane Darnell Brown, 20, of Windsor Mill, is also charged with manslaughter and related offenses. He remains free on home detention.
Assistant State’s Attorney Felise Kelly said Lea was driving 121 mph five seconds before the crash and told investigators that she had prescription medications and cannabis in her system.
The speed limit is 55 mph.
“The state does have significant concerns for public safety,” said Kelly, who pushed for the judge to continue to hold Lea without bond in the Baltimore County Detention Center.
But Isaac Klein, one of Lea’s attorneys, said his client retained counsel and turned herself into police.
Klein disputed an allegation that his client was a flight risk. He said his client experiences several health issues — he wrote in court documents that she had a left knee replacement and has a history of blood clots and strokes — and suffered falls while incarcerated due to taking a new mix of prescriptions.
Family members sat in the gallery of the courtroom in support.
“I don’t believe there’s any issue of threat to public safety,” Klein said.
Lea and Brown are expected back in court on Aug. 1.