Child Endangerment Charges Dropped
Ebony Michelle Howard stood tearfully before the Judge Mark Trusock in the Kent County Circuit Court on Monday, April 22nd. “I’m guilty. I was drinking.” she admitted. She also stated that her plea was freely and voluntarily given. Howard has been charged with one count of operating while intoxicated -OWI causing serious injury because of a drunk driving accident.
According to reports, on March 16th at about 10:30 pm, Howard was driving south on Grandville Avenue SW, not far from her home, when her car struck another vehicle. The 22 year old driver had her 3-year-old daughter in the back seat at the time of the collision. Police say Howard’s blood alcohol level was 0.13 percent. The legal threshold for drunk driving in Michigan is 0.08 percent.
The driver of the other car was 64-year-old Cynthia Reichard of Kentwood, who was hurt in the crash. Reichard suffered multiple broken bones and remained in the hospital for 10 days after the accident, according to the Grand Rapids police. She is undergoing therapy for her injuries.
Howard was arrested at the scene, and charged with operating while intoxicated causing serious injury, which is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000, or both. She was also charged with child endangerment for having a person under the age of 16 in the car while she was driving drunk, which is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail.
In the Grand Rapids District Court on March 26, Howard waived the probable cause hearing in order to preserve a plea offer from the Kent County Prosecutor’s Office allowing her to plead guilty to the drunken driving charge in exchange for dropping the child endangerment charge. Howard is out of jail on a $3,000 cash or surety bond, and is scheduled for sentencing on June 26.