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Troup County mother pleads to homicide by vehicle in fatal wreck

By Melanie Ruberti

mruberti@civitasmedia.com

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LaGRANGE — A Troup County mother accused of drinking while driving in a crash that claimed the life of her 14-year-old daughter tearfully pleaded guilty Tuesday in Troup County Superior Court to charges related to that accident.

Marsha Renee Lindsay silently wept as she listened to the charges against her by Chief Assistant District Attorney Monique Kirby: homicide and serious injury by vehicle, driving under the influence of alcohol less safe, failure to maintain lane and failure to use a safety belt on a minor.

After each charge was read, Kirby asked Lindsay how she pleaded, to which the 37 year old softly replied “guilty.”

Kirby then recounted the details of the crash that killed Megan Lindsay in the early morning hours of Oct. 2, 2014, on West Point Road just south of LaGrange.

“Her daughter was with her in the car when the car overturned in the southbound shoulder, which caused the car to roll over into the road and eject the victim, who was not wearing a seat belt,” Kirby said.

According to the crash report, Marsha Lindsay lost control of her Lexus ES330, veered outside her lane, clipped a mailbox, may have over-corrected and fishtailed into a ditch, flipping the car several times before it landed upside down.

Lindsay said her daughter was in the process of climbing from the back seat to the front seat when the crash occurred, Kirby told the court.

Megan Lindsay was thrown from the vehicle and suffered life-threatening injuries. Kirby said she died a week later at Egleston hospital in Atlanta.

She also told the court Marsha Lindsay was taking a friend home that morning and had just dropped her off. The friend stated to investigators she was certain Megan was in the front seat of the car as the pair drove off and she was buckled.

Kirby also said Marsha Lindsay’s blood alcohol level was just over the legal limit the night of the crash. According to Kirby, at first she told law enforcement officers she has two margaritas earlier that night. Later, Lindsay told officials she had two beers and a shot of Tequila.

“The evidence from the sheriff’s deputies and the troopers is that there was alcohol involved,” Kirby told the court. “Her eyes were bloodshot … she was unsteady on her feet. When the trooper arrived around 3:15 a.m. … at that time she agreed to have her blood drawn and at that time it was 0.81.”

Kirby also said Lindsay had a DUI in 2009 and was arrested for DUI in 2012, but in that case pleaded down to reckless conduct.

Still, Kirby admitted she agonized over the proper punishment to give Marsha Lindsay. In the end, she asked Troup County Superior Court Judge Dennis Blackmon to sentence Lindsay to 10 years, two years to serve in a state prison with eight years on probation for vehicular homicide, plus 12 months for DUI less safe and 12 months for failure to maintain lane, both to be served concurrently with the homicide charge.

“Your honor, these are some of the most difficult cases to try and come up with what a fair recommendation is,” Kirby told Blackmon. “I spent a lot of time wrestling over what was fair in this case … in DUI cases where people kill someone the recommendation of time is different, but in this case, she lost her own child. I do recognize that she is suffering and is being punished in a way that the court system cannot punish her in losing this child. That was a factor I took into consideration.”

Lindsay’s attorney, Cindy Manning of the law firm Manning Legal Group, spoke on behalf of the 37 year old’s other two children, who sat right behind their mother in the courtroom.

“Her children … want to express their belief that their sister, Megan, would not have wanted this,” Manning stated. “They were a very close family. … I know that Marsha has been suffering for a little over a year now. … She has such tremendous guilt and remorse over this incident. She’s here to take responsibility for it. … She knows she’ll be forever punished for it.”

Manning also asked Blackmon to consider sentencing Lindsay as a first offender.

The judge agreed to both lawyers’ recommendations and formally sentenced Marsha Lindsay as a first offender with Kirby’s recommended terms. Troup County sheriff’s deputies immediately took Lindsay into custody.

Outside the courtroom, her family and friends made it very clear they support Marsha Lindsay, and feel the death of her daughter was punishment enough.

“She is a wonderful mom. Jail is not what she should have gotten,” said Tiffany Gay, Marsha Lindsay’s friend. “She has given those kids everything they’ve wanted … school, sports … she’s been a single mother since they were little.

“Prison is for bad people, and she’s not a bad person,” Gay added.

What began as a tragic situation on Oct. 2, 2014, continued to take its toll on Lindsay’s family and friends on Tuesday, said Gay. She said it was especially hard for Marsha Lindsay’s other two children.

“That’s what’s really sad. She has two children who have already lost a sister, and now they’re losing their mom too,” Gay explained. “What about them? What are they going to do?”

Melanie Ruberti is a reporter at LaGrange Daily News. She may be reached at 706-884-7311, ext. 2156.