A Shiremanstown woman accused of causing a crash in Monroe Township in 2016 that resulted in the death of 23-year-old Alicia Nicholson has been found guilty on all charges.
Andrea Lenk, 33, was convicted by a jury Thursday of felony homicide by vehicle, misdemeanor involuntary manslaughter and multiple summary traffic violations, including speeding and texting while driving, following a three-day trial. It took the jury less than six hours to reach a unanimous guilty verdict on all charges.
During the trial, the prosecution argued that around 10:40 a.m. Feb. 6, 2016, Lenk was using her cellphone, causing her to run a stop sign on Boiling Springs Road at the intersection of Lisburn Road and strike Nicholson’s vehicle, killing Nicholson.
“That’s Alicia Nicholson; a mother, a wife and a daughter,” Senior Assistant District Attorney John Dailey said pointing to a photo of Nicholson Thursday during closing arguments. “The defendant’s grossly negligent driving killed her.”
Cellphone records show Lenk had a text-message conversation with another person as she was driving from Shiremanstown to Carlisle to attend a funeral, according to testimony provided by several witnesses during the trial.
Lenk received the final text at 10:38 a.m. and the prosecution argued the crash occurred around 10:39 a.m.
Dailey said Lenk had roughly 12 seconds from the point the stop sign was visible on the roadway to the time she drove through it.
“She had zero awareness of the environment she was driving in,” Dailey said.
He argued Lenk was essentially blindfolded while she was driving because she was paying attention to her phone rather than the road.
“If you were driving a vehicle for that amount of time, what do you think is going to happen?” he said. “You are literally a ticking time bomb. Everybody knows that.”
The defense has countered that the cellphone records show Lenk was not using her phone at the time of the crash and that the prosecution’s timeline is off by several minutes.
Two short phone calls were placed from Lenk’s phone at 10:38 a.m. and 10:39 a.m. Lenk argued Wednesday those phone calls were placed after the crash in an attempt to contact her boyfriend.
The last recorded activity on Lenk’s phone occurred at 10:32 a.m. when she sent a text message to a friend, according to testimony provided in court.
In a statement to police and during her testimony Wednesday, Lenk said she was unfamiliar with the road and was distraught thinking about the funeral she was going to.
She said she looked down at her radio and when she looked up she had driven through the stop sign and was about to hit Nicholson’s vehicle.
“She was driving down the road. She looked down at the radio. She looked back up and black,” defense attorney Stephanie Cesare said Thursday.
Cesare conceded that Lenk was inattentive as she was driving, but argued that her actions culminated in what should be seen as an accident and not a criminal offense.
“Andrea lives every day asking why did (Nicholson) go and I didn’t,” Cesare said. “She will never forget. She will be haunted by the consequences of this tragic accident for the rest of her life.”
Lenk is scheduled to be sentenced at 1:30 p.m. Nov. 21 by Cumberland County Common Pleas Judge Skip Ebert.
WASHINGTON — House Republicans on Thursday unveiled a tax cut plan that would slash the corporate rate and lower the personal taxes of most Americans but also limit a deduction for homeowners, as President Donald Trump and the GOP seek to deliver on the first tax revamp in three decades.
The proposal would add $1.5 trillion to the nation’s debt over the next decade as Republicans largely abandoned fiscal discipline in a plan that could secure a legislative achievement for Trump and score a political win ahead of next year’s midterm elections.
Trump promised in a statement that his administration “will work tirelessly to make good on our promise to the working people who built our nation and deliver historic tax cuts and reforms — the rocket fuel our economy needs to soar higher than ever before.”
Middle-income families would pay less, thanks to doubling of the standard deduction and an increase in the child tax credit. Wealthy Americans, like Trump, would benefit from the repeal of the alternative minimum tax and phase-out of the estate tax. Republicans calculate that a family of four with a median $60,000 income would receive a tax cut of almost $1,200.
However, many two-income, upper middle class families would pay more after being bumped into a higher tax bracket and losing a valuable deduction on state income taxes.
“Today is the day. We are introducing legislation that will cut your taxes & make the entire system more simple. This will be a game-changer,” Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said on Twitter.
The proposal would leave intact the existing rules on 401(k) retirement accounts and the ability of Americans to contribute up to $18,000 into the accounts tax-deferred. But the plan would limit the widely used deduction for mortgage interest to new home loans of $500,000 or less, a sharp reduction from the current $1 million cap.
The plan also would limit the deductibility of local property taxes to $10,000 and eliminate the deduction for state income taxes, which has generated significant opposition from Republicans in high-tax states such as New York and New Jersey.
The tax-writing Ways and Means Committee will work on finalizing the proposal next week, and the GOP’s timetable to get a bill to Trump by Christmas faces numerous roadblocks. The proposal caused anxiety for some House Republicans and drew criticism from a few in the Senate, which is intent on writing its own bill.
Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., announced his opposition: “We need to fix this.”
The plan would shrink the number of tax brackets from seven to three, with respective rates of 12 percent, 25 percent, 35 percent and 39.6 percent. The tax system would be simplified, and most people would be able to file their returns on a postcard-sized form.
The plan would set a 25 percent tax rate starting at $90,000 for married couples, with a 35 percent rate beginning to bite at $260,000 — which means many upper-income families whose top rate now is 33 percent would face higher taxes. Individuals making $500,000 and couples earning $1 million would face the current Clinton-era top rate of 39.6 percent.
The plan would slash the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent, a demand by Trump. It also would repeal the inheritance taxes on multimillion-dollar estates, a big break for the wealthy.
“There are a lot of people still in our conference who are anxious to see exactly how this plays out with growth in the economy, what the long term deficit and debt situation turns out to be,” said Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark.
Reaction among outside groups was mixed. Tax-cut activist Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax reform said the measure was “long overdue” and offered “great news for taxpayers and those left behind by eight years of slow growth under Obama.” But the National Federation of Independent Business, a GOP-leaning lobby for small business, announced its opposition and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said the plan still needs work.
The child tax credit would be increased from $1,000 to $1,600, though the $4,050 per child exemption would be repealed.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., tweeted an objection: “House #TaxReform plan is only starting point. But $600 #ChildTaxCredit increase doesn’t achieve our & @potus goal of helping working families.”
The legislation is a longstanding goal for Capitol Hill Republicans who see a once-in-a-generation opportunity to clean up an inefficient, loophole-cluttered tax code.
The plan calls for nearly doubling the standard deduction used by most average Americans to $12,000 for individuals and $24,000 for families, and increasing the per-child tax credit.
On net, it could mean tax increases for many upper middle-income families.
Republicans and Trump argue that sharply cutting tax rates for businesses would improve U.S. economic competitiveness.
The emerging plan would retain the Clinton-era 39.6 percent income tax rate for the wealthiest earners. But for that highest bracket, the tax writers raised the minimum level of income to $1 million for couples or families from the current $470,000 — a change that would reduce tax revenue.
Democrats have repeatedly complained the plan was too favorable to business and the wealthy, and contradicted Trump’s rhetoric of bringing tax relief and economic benefit to the stressed middle class.
“What we are seeing today is a plan that exacerbates the unfairness and inequality in our tax code,” said top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer of New York. “To pay for all the tax giveaways in their bill, the Republicans are likely to make it worse for the middle class — not help them but hurt them.”
Moving to Bismarck, North Dakota, had not been in the plan for Gary Adkisson.
He came to Carlisle as the publisher of The Sentinel in 2014 after his career in the newspaper business had taken him to Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky.
“We thought this would be the place that we would stay,” Adkisson said.
But, when the offer to become the next publisher of The Bismarck Tribune came, it seemed like the right next step, he said.
Lee Enterprises Inc. announced the move Thursday.
“Gary has an impressive record of accomplishment and has excelled in every area of our business,” said Julie Bechtel, president and publisher of Lee’s Central Illinois Group and company group publisher. “He has great passion for strong local news and outstanding service to readers and advertisers.”
Kim Kamowski has been named interim publisher for The Sentinel, and Lee Enterprises will initiate a search for a new publisher.
“Gary created a great legacy. He had great ideas, and I just want to continue to uphold those,” Kamowski said.
Starting the Cumberland Valley Business Journal was a highlight of Adkisson’s time at The Sentinel, but the three-year run also featured a concerted effort to involve the newspaper in the life of the Carlisle community, particularly through organizations like the Greater Carlisle Area Chamber of Commerce, the Cumberland Area Economic Development Corp. and the United Way of Carlisle and Cumberland County.
Adkisson said he’s ready to do the same in North Dakota since getting involved is the only way to understand the needs and issues in the community. The Bismarck area has gone through the cycles of boom and bust that go along with the oil and gas industry.
“It’s a completely different type of community and kind of economy,” Adkisson said.
Kamowski said The Sentinel’s involvement with the community will continue, and business at the newspaper will continue as usual as the search for a new publisher goes on. She already serves on committees with the United Way, Downtown Carlisle Association, Summerfair and the YMCA.
“I will continue to do all of that and pick up where he left off,” she said.
Adkisson joined Lee in 2014 after serving as general manager of The Paducah Sun in Paducah, Kentucky, since 2007. He previously was regional publisher of three dailies and 13 weekly publications at Brown Publishing in Delaware, Ohio. His career also includes positions as publisher at the Bluefield Daily Telegraph in Bluefield, West Virginia; the Weatherford Democrat in Weatherford, Texas; and Livermore Publishing in Mineral Wells, Texas. He began his career in 1977 as a circulation district manager at The Tennessean and Nashville Banner in Nashville while still a student at Welch College.
Adkisson and his wife, Glenda, have three adult children and six grandchildren.
An article on the website of Dickinson College’s student newspaper, The Dickinsonian, offered additional information Thursday on a controversial Halloween costume that appeared to show a gun pointed at a student dressed as former NFL player Colin Kaepernick.
The college newspaper website also posted letters of apology from the students involved in the incident.
“Ignorance of the kind I demonstrated is not something that gets fixed with angry Facebook posts or tweets — rather, it is something that can only be repaired through constructive dialogue. I am so sorry for the hurt this has caused this community,” wrote the student.
He said in the letter that his costume consisted of a wig and a Kaepernick jersey, and that he was not wearing blackface. He wrote that he is “genuinely a darker-skinned person” and the lighting in the Snapchat video “may have accentuated that.”
He also said the toy gun was not part of the costume or a larger theme, but had been pointed “jokingly” at several people in the room. That claim was backed by the student who was holding the toy gun. He wrote that the toy gun was an accessory to the costume, and that the photo presents a scene that is “disturbingly out of context.”
“At no time was the toy gun intentionally pointed at the person dressed as Colin Kaepernick, nor did I know about, plan or arrange the image in any way,” he wrote.
The student wrote that he had met with Vice President and Dean of Student Life Joyce Bylander, the Black Student Union and Kappa Alpha Psi — Xi Kappa Chapter, a fraternity that had called for a serious investigation into the incident, to discuss the effect the image had on the community and how to move ahead.
“I deeply regret the repugnant image and the impact this image has had in our community. I am committed to participating in discussion about our common values, to learn from this event, and to help prevent this kind of harm from happening again,” he wrote.
The Dickinsonian also described a community conversation organized by the Student Senate and the Black Student Union, along with other organizations, that was held Monday night in Allison Hall, as well as other discussions on the incident itself and the potential responses to it within the Dickinson community.
Statements from both Joe Giunta, director of athletics, and David Webster, the head coach of the lacrosse team, were also included in the article, which identified the costumed student as a member of the men’s varsity lacrosse team.
Giunta’s statement called the photo “upsetting and unacceptable,” and said that discriminatory behavior would not be tolerated in the athletic program.
Webster said that the team had made a “horrendous mistake” and wanted to be part of the healing process for the harm that it caused.
Dickinson College President Margee Ensign also weighed in with a statement to The Dickinsonian in which she said, “We must all nurture tolerance and appreciation of difference among people, and handle mistakes when they are made.”