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Woman found not guilty in fatal crash based on mental state

May 26, 2021 GMT

FALL RIVER, Mass. (AP) — A Massachusetts woman who caused a car crash that killed a married couple in their 70s has been found not guilty by a judge who determined she lacked criminal responsibility because of her mental state.

Sheri Anne Vazquez, 35, was found not guilty Tuesday after a two-day trial in Fall River Superior Court, The Enterprise of Brockton reported.

Vazquez faced multiple charges including two counts of manslaughter in connection with the crash in Easton in May 2019 in which Virginia Masefield, 77, and John Masefield, 79, of East Bridgewater, died.

Her attorney, Jason Maloney, did not dispute that his client caused the crash, but told the judge she was “suffering from a form of psychosis” at the time. He called an expert witness who testified that Vazquez met diagnostic criteria for a mental health condition that distorted her thinking and perception.

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Authorities said Vazquez was traveling almost 90 mph at the time of the crash.

Prosecutor Matthew Sylvia said at trial that while Vazquez’s condition may have diminished her mental capacity, she knew what she was doing when she decided to drive.

Vazquez was sentenced to a 40-day observation at a mental health facility, after which she will be reassessed.