Woman Charged In Fatal Accident

Montgomery Advertiser

PRATTVILLE -- A Lowndesboro women has been charged with criminally negligent homicide in connection with a fatal traffic accident that occurred June 18 in Prattville.

Loren Grace Hardy, 20, of 704 Red Eagle Drive, had her first appearance in court Monday morning before Autauga County District Judge Joy Booth. She has been released from the Autauga Metro Jail under a $15,000 bond, according to jail records.

Loren Grace Hardy, 20, has been charged with criminally negligent homicide.
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Her attorney, Cliff Cleveland, of Prattville, declined to comment about the case. Alabama state troopers arrested Hardy last week, said Sgt. Steve Jarrett, spokesman for the Alabama Dept. of Public Safety.

The accident occurred about 11 p.m. near the intersection of Interstate 65 and U.S. 31, according to court documents. Lance Ray Martin Jr., 25, of Prattville, was pronounced dead at the scene, Jarrett said. Hardy also was injured in the accident.

Hardy allegedly was under the influence of alcohol when the 2007 Chrysler Sebring she was driving crossed into Martin's lane, court records show.

Martin had been pursuing a master's degree in counseling at Auburn Montgomery.

Although criminally negligent homicide is usually a misdemeanor with a maximum punishment of a year and a day in the county jail, since prosecutors believe alcohol was involved in the crash, Hardy was charged with a Class C felony, with a punishment range of one to 10 years in prison, District Attorney Randall Houston said.

The case will go before a future session of the Autauga County grand jury, Houston said.

"We will conduct our investigation into this case, we have other evidence pending," he said, speaking of blood tests that could prove if alcohol or drugs were involved in the accident. "We'll look at the case in its entirety, and we may seek upgraded charges through the grand jury."