Driver Involved In Crabtree Valley Mall Death Appears In Court
Posted September 6, 2001 4:35 a.m. EDT
RALEIGH — The man accused of running over and killing a woman in the Crabtree Valley Mall parking lot was in court Thursday. He said the accident was not his fault, but the sports utility vehicle he was driving was to blame.
Roger Dale Bridges, 54, appeared calm under pressure as the assistant district attorney asked for $100,000 bail. Bridges has been in a alcohol treatment program since the accident.
Bridges is charged with second degree murder in the death of Jianping Huo, the owner of a tailor shop at Crabtree Valley Mall. Huo was crossing the parking lot when she was run down.
Bridges told the judge that his girlfriend drove the Ford Explorer to the mall. She went inside and while he waited in the passenger seat, the SUV jumped into gear. He said he was only trying to stop it.
Judge Howard Manning is forcing the Wake Forest building inspector to go into a lengthy alcohol treatment program until the trial starts. Bridges' drivers license was also revoked when he blew .23 on the breathalyzer, almost three times the state's legal limit of .08. Manning said he wants to make sure Bridges' license stays suspended.
"I don't want him behind the wheel of a car, truck or any other motor vehicle," he said.
The defense will focus its case on the SUV. The judge allowed the defense to look into whether the SUV accelerated on its own and if Bridges tried to stop it. They claim the 1993 Ford Explorer was part of a recall in 1994 for a similar problem.