LANCASTER – The suspected drunk driver involved in Tuesday’s collision, that killed a Lancaster woman and critically injured the woman’s husband, cried throughout her court appearance Thursday.
Jodi Lynn Biers, 28, was charged with five felonies – gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, two counts of driving under the influence and causing injury, and two counts of driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 percent or more.
She pleaded not guilty to all charges and was ordered to appear on March 27 for a preliminary hearing. Her bail was raised to $230,000.
Before being led away by deputies, a weeping Biers clasped her hands as if in prayer and appeared to mouth the words “I’m sorry, I’m sorry” to the crowd of people in the courtroom.
Several in the courtroom were family members and friends of Angelica Goins-Jones and her husband, Patrick Jones.
“Her saying sorry to us made me feel bad for her because I believe that she truly is sorry for what she did,” said the couple’s sister, Nicole Jones. “But that’s not going to bring Angie back and it’s not going to bring my brother out of the hospital. She [Biers] needs to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
Authorities said Biers was driving with a blood alcohol level of .226, nearly three times the legal limit, when her pickup truck collided with the couple’s vehicle around 12:54 a.m. Tuesday, instantly killing Angelica and leaving Patrick in the hospital fighting for his life.
“He’s not conscious right now,” said Nicole Jones. “He’s on a ventilator because his lungs collapsed, his diaphragm is torn, his kidneys are only functioning at 25 percent, and he has a bruised heart.”
Worst of all, she says, is what her brother must hear when he wakes up.
“He doesn’t even know about his wife yet,” she said. “We are all trying to stay strong and be there for him.”
Angelica and Patrick had been together for 21 years, was married for 10 years, and shared a 19-year-old daughter, Nicole Jones said.
Early Tuesday morning, the couple was headed home after a long night of packing boxes and moving furniture.
“They were helping me move and pack,” Nicole Jones said. “They left my house around 12:30 [a.m.] and they just wanted to get home and get some rest.”
The couple was only minutes away from their home on 10th street west when the collision happened.
Authorities say Biers was traveling south on 10th street west and the couple was traveling east on West Avenue L.
“She [Angelica] was in the intersection on a green light ready to make a turn,” Lancaster Station spokesman Michael Rust said Thursday. He said investigators have not determined the exact rate of speed Biers was traveling when her pickup truck slammed into the vehicle, and he did not want to give an estimated rate of speed because the matter was still under investigation.
“But we know she was extremely drunk, so we’re putting her 100 percent at fault,” Rust said.
“She hit my sister’s car so hard that even after the impact it pushed it 100 feet,” said Paula Goins. “I really don’t have any words for her… her feelings of guilt may diminish over time but our family will always be in pain because we will never ever get my sister back.”
Several family members were angered by the results of Thursday’s court hearing.
“It’s not vehicular manslaughter, I believe it should be murder and attempted murder,” said Nicole Jones.
“I believe the bail should have been set higher to at least one million dollars,” said Paula Goins. “You have one person dead, you have another person critically injured, and you have a child that could possibly lose both parents.”
The couple’s daughter, Taylor Jones, was also at the hearing.
“I love my mom more than anything and I miss her so much,” said Taylor. “I’m just trying to stay strong right now because of my father… I know he needs me to be strong for him.”
The preliminary hearing on the case is set for March 27.