On Sept. 8, Chamica Adams allegedly drove a Dodge Caliber through two young women, killing one and hospitalizing the other, and into the dining room of Keren Restaurant in Adams Morgan after a night of drinking. This morning she went before a D.C. Superior Court judge, supported by two rows of family members, and requested a speedy trial in her involuntary manslaughter case.
In all likelihood, it won’t come to that. After the brief hearing her lawyer, James Rudasill, said he’s hopeful he and the government will reach a plea deal. Calling the crash “a tragedy on both sides,” he also shared some details of the night in question as well as of Adams’ life since her arrest.
Adams, a 23-year-old from Mitchellville, Md., had been drinking at the bar District on 18th Street NW on Sept. 8. District had been doling out free drinks from 6 to 7 p.m. that night, a Wednesday deal they’d been known to advertise. The waif-like Adams weighs around 100 pounds, Rudasill said, adding that it would take just a couple of stiff drinks for her to get drunk.
Rudasill said Adams had been driven to Adams Morgan by a male friend who was supposed to drive her home as well; he later refused. That’s when she got behind the wheel.
“It was the first time she was intoxicated,” said Rudasill.
Driving south on 18th Street, Adams allegedly struck Julia Bachleitner, the Austrian national and graduate student at the School of Advanced International Studies who died the following week, and Melissa Basque, a French national who had serious head injuries, as the two stood at the pedestrian island at the intersection with Florida Ave. NW. Adams then apparently barreled through the glass at Keren.
According to Rudasill, Adams was unconscious behind the wheel at the moment of impact. In two police-administered tests she had a blood-alcohol level around twice the legal limit, according to court papers.
“This was the worst day of her life,” he said. “She’s extremely remorseful. It’s something she’s grieved over.”
Adams has been given court-ordered mental-health counseling, which is all she’s allowed to leave her home for. In addition to the involuntary manslaughter charge, she faces charges of aggravated assault, driving while intoxicated, and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. She has a status hearing on March 18, at which point it will be determined whether the government and defense have struck a deal or it goes to trial.
Because of the high-profile and international nature of the case, the government probably won’t back off of the involuntary manslaughter charge in plea dealings, though there’s a chance it may get knocked down to vehicular homicide. But that charge, too, would carry prison time for Adams.