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Woman Pleads Guilty to a Lesser Charge in Fatal Accident

Ling Wang, 49, of Springfield, Vt., listens to her attorney Brian Marsicovetere in Vermont Superior Court in White River Junction, Vt. on Feb. 13, 2014.. Wang pleaded guilty to negligent operation of a vehicle that killed another Springfield woman. On the left is Wang's husband, Michael Woychosky. Valley News - Jennifer Hauck

Ling Wang, 49, of Springfield, Vt., listens to her attorney Brian Marsicovetere in Vermont Superior Court in White River Junction, Vt. on Feb. 13, 2014.. Wang pleaded guilty to negligent operation of a vehicle that killed another Springfield woman. On the left is Wang's husband, Michael Woychosky. Valley News - Jennifer Hauck

White River Junction — A Springfield, Vt., woman pleaded guilty Thursday to a downgraded charge of negligent operation in a February 2012 accident that left another Springfield woman dead.

Ling Wang, 50, had previously been charged with gross negligent operation of a vehicle resulting in a fatality, a felony, which came with a maximum prison sentence of 15 years. Her amended charge is a misdemeanor that comes with a sentence that would place her in prison for a maximum of 30 days.

Windsor County State’s Attorney Michael Kainen said after the hearing that Wang’s case has a “mental health element” that played a role in the reduction of her charge.

“It’s really sad that this woman died,” Kainen said after the hearing. “And in none of this do I want to discount that fact, but I have a defendant who has real issues and I have to balance those two.”

Wang was traveling on Route 106 in Springfield at 64 mph in a posted 40-miles-per-hour zone, Kainen said during the hearing. She went over the yellow line when she was trying to navigate a turn, and hit a vehicle driven by Nicki Farren , 47, who died in the crash.

“A reasonable or careful person would not be driving 24 miles over the speed limit or cross the yellow line,” Kainen said.

However, Kainen said there are also proof issues in this case. Kainen said it would be difficult to prove that Wang was grossly negligent because she told officers she doesn’t remember the accident.

A presentence investigation was ordered, and Wang will be sentenced at a later date. Kainen said a judge could opt to sentence Wang to a work crew or home confinement, rather than prison. In addition to 30-day prison term, the plea agreement includes five years on probation, during which Wang would not be allowed to drive .

A request for a competency evaluation filed in court in August 2012 states Wang suffers from a serious delusional disorder that severely impairs her perception of the world, her medical needs and ability to care for herself and others. The competency evaluation itself is not part of the public record.

Kainen would not elaborate about Wang’s mental health issues. He said that Wang claims she is diabetic and needs insulin, but that she has not been diagnosed with diabetes.

A misdemeanor charge of false pretenses for allegedly writing a false prescription and obtaining a prescription blood thinner, Warfarin, was dropped as part of the plea agreement.

Kainen said during the hearing that he dropped that charge upon consideration of Wang’s mental health . The state would have had to prove that Wang acted intentionally or knowingly. But Kainen said after the hearing that given what he knows about Wang’s mental health, he’s pretty sure he wouldn’t have been able to meet that burden.

Wang is not a U.S. citizen, and Kainen said after the hearing that dropping the false pretense charge also was motivated by the possibility that Wang could be removed from the country if there was a conviction.

Kainen said he also could have asked Wang to plead not guilty by reason of insanity, but even that could have ended in deportation because the underlying charge dealt with dishonesty.

“I think requiring someone to plead not guilty by reason of insanity where someone has a substantial mental health issues could cause that person’s removal from the country I think is sort of a cruel result and so it wasn’t something I insisted,” Kainen said after the hearing.

The hearing lasted only five minutes, and Wang sat between her attorney, Brian Marsicovetere, and her husband, Michael Woychosky.

Wang is a petite woman with short black hair and silver rimmed glasses, and she wore a long, dark green coat during the hearing. She spoke only when the judge directed a question at her, responding “Yes, your honor.”

Wang walked quickly out of the court following her hearing, and her attorney said she declined to comment . Marsicovetere said he would reserve comment until the sentencing hearing.

Sarah Brubeck can be reached at sbrubeck@vnews.com or 603-727-3223.