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Judge convicts driver on 1 of 3 charges in car-bicycle accident

A driver facing charges in the April 2015 death of Glencoe resident Penny Verdeck in a car-bicycle accident has been convicted of careless driving.
District Judge Timothy Looby found her not guilty on two other charges — felony vehicular homicide and a misdemeanor charge of using a cellphone while driving.
Looby filed his findings on the case last week. The case went to a court trial, which is heard by a judge, rather than a jury, in late June.
Prosecutors had alleged that Emily Givens, 26, of Prior Lake, had been reading two text messages in the seconds before she hit Verdeck on a county road just north of Glencoe on April 26, 2015.
According to court documents, Givens claimed that she was not reading messages when the accident occurred, but had unlocked her phone to change a Pandora radio station.
Givens said that she last used the messaging app while parked in her grandmother’s driveway in Hutchinson. However, the app automatically opened on the screen when the phone was unlocked.
The judge, in his findings, said that experts for the prosecution noted that when the messaging app opened, the messages were assigned a “read” receipt.
The judge said those experts  conceded that “a ‘read’ receipt does not mean the defendant physically read the messages.”
Looby said that the prosecution could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Givens was distracted by the text messages.

For more, see the Sept. 28 print edition of The Chronicle.