Convicted of murder in homeless man's death, woman recounts night she hit him with car
Friday, June 27th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) _ The drugs Chante Mallard took the night she hit a homeless man on the highway and drove home with him lodged in her windshield impaired her judgment and played a part in her decision to not call for help, a toxicologist testified at her sentencing hearing Friday.
It took jurors less than an hour Thursday to convict Mallard, a 27-year-old former nurse's aide, of murder in the death of Gregory Biggs.
The same jury was expected to begin deliberating her penalty Friday. The maximum sentence would be life in prison.
On the stand Friday, Toxicologist Gary Wimbish testified that the ecstasy Mallard consumed along with alcohol that night would impair a person's ability to respond rationally to an emergency.
Biggs' son also testified, saying his father, a former bricklayer, will now never share the milestones in his life.
``He'll not be here to see me get married. He'll not be here to watch me grow old and launch out into a profession,'' a composed Brandon Biggs told the jury.
As the sentencing phase opened on Thursday, Mallard took the stand and for the first time publicly described what happened.
She said she didn't remember seeing Biggs along the road as she drove home about 3 a.m. Oct. 26, 2001. She heard a loud thud, she said, and then his body crashed through the windshield, sending glass flying into her face.
Biggs' head and torso hung over her dashboard through the broken windshield. Mallard said she got out of her car and touched his leg, sticking out through the broken glass, then got back in and drove home and parked in her garage.
She said she heard the man moan and knew he was alive, but she never called for help. She was too afraid she'd be arrested and because of the drugs she ``couldn't think to do the right thing,'' she said.
``I was asking God to tell me what to do,'' she said. ``I didn't know what to do. I was scared and I was crying.''
Medical experts testified during her trial that Biggs was probably alive for one to two hours after he was hit and that he probably would have survived he had gotten medical treatment.
``I have ruined the lives of other people,'' Mallard said Thursday, sobbing as she apologized to Biggs' 20-year-old son, Brandon Biggs, and to her own family. ``I have put people through pain. And I am so truly sorry. I'm so sorry, Brandon. I am so sorry for what I have caused your family and I am sorry for the pain that I have put my family through.''
She said she deserves to go to prison but did not say for how long.
Biggs' battered body was found in a park the day after he was hit. Mallard's friend Clete Deneal Jackson testified that she took him to her garage about six hours after she hit Biggs. He said he removed Biggs' body that night and, with the help of his cousin Herbert Tyrone Cleveland dumped it in the park.
Both men pleaded guilty to tampering with evidence and agreed to testify against Mallard as part of plea agreements. Jackson was sentenced to 10 years; Cleveland, nine.
Authorities had no leads in Biggs' death until four months later, when one of Mallard's acquaintances called police and said Mallard talked about the incident at a party.
Officers went to Mallard's house and found the bloodstained, dented car. They also found the passenger seat burned in the back yard.