Man found guilty of homicide by vehicle while DUI in death of girlfriend

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Todd Gracey, 53, of Manheim Township, faces a mandatory minimum sentence of three to six years in prison when he’s sentenced on June 16.

A man who had a blood alcohol content more than three times the legal limit after he crashed head-on into a tree and killed his girlfriend in York County was found guilty on Friday of homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence and related crimes.

Todd Gracey, 53, of Manheim Township, lowered his head after the jury returned its verdict at 5 p.m. at the conclusion of the four-day trial in the York County Court of Common Pleas. He faces a mandatory minimum sentence of three to six years in prison.

On Oct. 1, 2017, Gracey lost control of his 2005 Chevrolet Silverado, drove up an embankment and crashed into a tree on Blooming Grove Road near Glenville Road in Codorus Township. He had been driving about 76 mph in a 45 mph zone, and testing revealed that his blood alcohol content was 0.243%, the Pennsylvania State Police said.

The legal limit for driving is 0.08% in Pennsylvania.

His girlfriend, Ambre Rheinhardt, 41, formerly of Weirton, West Virginia, was pronounced dead at the scene. He was seriously hurt in the wreck, and emergency medical services medevaced him to York Hospital.

READ:Man charged with homicide by vehicle while DUI in crash on Interstate 83 in York County

Todd Gracey, 53, of Manheim Township, was found guilty on Friday of homicide by vehicle and related crimes in the death of his girlfriend, Ambre Rheinhardt, on Oct. 1, 2017. He faces a mandatory minimum sentence of three to six years in prison.

In her closing argument, Senior Deputy Prosecutor Phoebe Yates stated that Gracey was driving under the influence and speeding.

Gracey had been drinking throughout the day, she noted, including earlier at a Baltimore Ravens game. He had a blood alcohol content that was more than the legal limit, lost control of the pickup and caused the death of his girlfriend, Yates said.

“It’s that simple,” Yates said. “It’s that straightforward.”

Yates acknowledged that prosecutors were asking the jury to make a serious and unpleasant decision.

But she said that jurors could not imagine or conjure up reasonable doubt to avoid fulfilling that duty. Yates told them to not get distracted by the defense’s “unreasonable theories.”

“He didn’t have a medical event,” said Yates, who tried the case with Deputy Prosecutor Virginia Hobbs. “He was conscious. He was awake.”

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But Chris Ferro, Gracey’s attorney, argued that law enforcement exhibited willful blindness toward information that contradicted its pre-existing belief in the case.

For instance, Jimmie Valentine, an expert in clinical pharmacology, forensic toxicology, analytical chemistry and blood alcohol testing, testified on behalf of the defense about “possible alternative explanations” for the deadly crash.

Valentine stated that factors including trauma, blood loss and medical intervention can skew blood alcohol results and make them unreliable. Your stories live here.Fuel your hometown passion and plug into the stories that define it.

Gracey, he noted, could’ve experienced a “medical event.” He told troopers that he had been feeling numb, tingly and sick before the wreck.

“They want you to disregard the possibilities, because it doesn’t fit into their final conclusions,” Ferro said. “They didn’t care. They didn’t listen. They didn’t look,” he added.

MORE:Man to serve 15 to 30 years for third-degree murder in double-fatal crash in York County

Besides the lead charge, the jury convicted Gracey of homicide by vehicle and two counts of DUI. Jurors acquitted him of recklessly endangering another person.

Later, Common Pleas Judge Amber Anstine Kraft found him guilty of seven traffic  offenses. She scheduled sentencing for June 16.

Gracey remains free on $30,000 unsecured bail, according to court records. https://www.ydr.com/story/news/crime/2021/04/30/man-found-guilty-homicide-by-vehicle-while-driving-under-the-influence-deadly-crash-york-county/7345339002/

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