Man ordered to prison for causing 2012 high-speed crash on Maine Street, seriously injuring 2 women

photo by: Journal-World file photo

Crews work the scene of a head-on collision on the 900 block of Maine Street on Sept. 7, 2012.

A case that dragged on for nearly six years has ended with a man headed to prison for causing a high-speed, head-on crash in a Lawrence residential neighborhood.

Douglas County District Court Judge Kay Huff on Wednesday ordered Justin M. Crawford, 45, of Topeka, to serve 41 months in prison. With credit for the 10 months he has already been jailed, Crawford will be in prison roughly two and a half years, followed by two years of post-release supervision.

The judge also ordered Crawford to pay more than $5,800 in restitution to the crime victim compensation fund, plus other court costs and fees.

Crawford has dealt with severe mental problems as well as a chronic disease that causes him “tremendous physical pain,” his attorney, Hatem Chahine, said. Chahine said pain medication he took for that disease led to addiction, which led to the crash.

Crawford pleaded no contest and was convicted of two counts of felony aggravated battery for seriously injuring the two women in the car he hit about 2:15 p.m. Sept. 7, 2012, in the 900 block of Maine Street. Chahine said Crawford, who has three DUI convictions, accepts responsibility for the incident.

Earlier the day of the wreck Crawford went to a Topeka hospital and was given morphine for severe abdominal pain, prosecutors said. He later drove to Lawrence Memorial Hospital and received multiple doses of fentanyl for complaints of extreme pain in his chest, and instead of taking a cab like he told hospital staff, he drove away on his own.

Crawford told police he was feeling suicidal and “just took off,” flooring the gas pedal, prosecutors said. Police previously said Crawford was going at least 60 mph in the 25 mph zone.

photo by: Douglas County Sheriff’s Office

Justin M. Crawford

One of the injured women, then 67, spent a month in rehab for multiple broken bones in her legs and had to learn how to walk again, prosecutors said. The other woman, then 49, suffered a broken ankle and other cuts and scrapes.

Neither attended Crawford’s sentencing.

The related criminal case against Crawford was filed in 2014.

A jury heard Crawford’s case in April 2015, but that ended in a mistrial. Crawford then failed to appear for two ensuing scheduled jury trials.

After that, he was arrested in August 2017 and his bond increased to $250,000. He has remained in custody since.

Last fall, after being in jail two months, Crawford appeared at hearings in a wheelchair, gaunt with long hair and an unkempt beard — far different from his mugshot taken earlier.

After undergoing psychological treatment at Larned State Hospital, Crawford returned for recent proceedings in court, where he again appeared clean-cut, standing and speaking clearly to the judge. Chahine said that while Crawford still had emotional and physical problems he was much better cognitively and able to understand the court proceedings.

“He’s pretty much a different person than when I was first appointed,” Chahine said.

Contact Journal-World public safety reporter Sara Shepherd


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