A Delaware County man pleaded guilty Thursday to third-degree murder of an unborn child - a seldom-used charge - in a Chester County crash last year in which a pregnant woman was injured.
Remington Simmons, 30, of Boothwyn, who also pleaded guilty in Chester County Court to driving under the influence, was sentenced to 3½ to 7 years in state prison.
Simmons' attorney and the prosecution negotiated the plea agreement. Prosecutor Jonathan Harrar called the sentence "a just result."
"I was pretty adamant about getting the third-degree murder charge," he said. "I think the case law was on my side, and the judge agreed with me."
The charge of murder of an unborn child, which has been on the Pennsylvania books for 15 years, has been used only a handful of times in the region.
Evan Kelly, Simmons' lawyer, called his client a "bright guy" with a "good heart" who had been "battling the disease of alcoholism." He has been going to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and counseling, Kelly said.
"When he got in the car that night, he never intended something like this to happen," Kelly said. "At the end of the day, Mr. Simmons decided, I think rightly, that he wanted to take responsibility for the horrible tragedy that unfolded that night."
According to police, Simmons had been drinking for hours when he drove on Wilmington Pike in Birmingham Township on March 8, 2014. He was traveling at more than 100 m.p.h. when his car rear-ended a car driven by Andrea McQueen of Coatesville.
McQueen was thrown from the car. She was nearly seven months pregnant.
Simmons expressed remorse Thursday, apologizing to McQueen and her husband, Glenn, who were in the West Chester courtroom but chose not to speak.
Harrar said the agreement spared the McQueens the anguish of a trial.
He also said that explaining the intricacies of malice in the case to a jury would have been difficult. The prosecution must establish malice for third-degree murder.
"Speed and alcohol are a potent mix," Harrar said. "And we hope people driving during the holiday season think twice if they've been drinking."