WILKES-BARRE — A judge has issued a not guilty verdict in the trial of a woman accused in a hit-and-run death nearly six years ago.
The deadly crash happened at the intersection of Wyoming Avenue and Pierce Street in Kingston in August 2008.
Police say it was there that Megan Panowicz hit Sharon Shaughnessy with her car.
She was the first of three drivers to hit the victim.
A judge ruled that despite Panowicz’s confession, she’s not guilty
Father and daughter shared a hug and a pat on the back after the verdict.
Panowicz told police she hit the woman at the intersection with Pierce Street, pulled over, tried to call 911, saw two other cars hit the woman, and then drove off.
She turned herself in the next day with her father who is a lawyer representing her.
He continued to represent Panowicz at the trial but wouldn’t comment after the verdict.
Sharon Shaughenessy’s sister spoke with Newswatch 16.
“I’m OK with the verdict. I had made peace that it was a traumatic something to go through, and I do feel for her,” said Brenda Jurchak.
At the trial in front of a judge, Panowicz testified in her own defense saying she was in shock when the crash happened.
She said, “I lost my ability to think. I lost my ability to determine what’s right and wrong.”
She also admitted to having suicidal thoughts after the crash.
Panowicz said she’s been to counseling and has taken medications.
In closing arguments, her father stated it was still unclear whether it was the impact from Panowicz’s car or the other drivers that killed the victim.
He argued Panowicz did stop and turned herself in the next day.
Prosecutors from the state attorney general’s office argued that her turning herself in “was a self-interested act of damage control” and that she never called 911 and waited to go to the police.
In the end, the judge sided with the defense.
“Time heals all pain, and that’s what it did for me anyway. It healed and today was closure for that healing and now we want to let her rest in peace,” Jurchak added.
The other two drivers involved in this hit and run testified on Tuesday.
The second driver to hit Shaughnessey was never charged. She stayed at the scene.
The third driver took a guilty plea last year. She was fined and had her license suspended.