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Prosecutors Re-File Murder Charges Against Woman Who Allegedly Admitted to Drinking Before Car Crash That Killed Two State Troopers

Jayana Tanae Webb. (Image via mugshot.)

Jayana Tanae Webb. (Image via mugshot.)

The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office has re-filed third-degree murder charges against a woman accused of killing two state troopers and a third person in a drunk driving crash earlier this year. That’s according to a court docket reviewed by Law&Crime and several local news reports.

The victims of the crash were troopers Martin F. Mack III, 33, and Branden T. Sisca, 29. Also killed was Reyes Rivera Oliveras, 28, a pedestrian who was detained in the troopers’ police cruiser when the crash happened.

Fallen Troopers Pennsylvania State Police Troopers Martin Mack III and Branden Sisca appear in official portraits.

Fallen Troopers Pennsylvania State Police Troopers Martin Mack III and Branden Sisca appear in official portraits.

Jayana Tanae Webb, now 22, of Eagleville, Montgomery County, is accused of 21 separate counts, including:

  1. Homicide by Vehicle While DUI
  2. Murder Of The Third Degree
  3. Homicide By Vehicle
  4. Involuntary Manslaughter
  5. Recklessly Endangering Another Person
  6. Manslaughter of a Law Enforcement Officer in the Second Degree
  7. Homicide by Vehicle While DUI
  8. Murder Of The Third Degree
  9. Homicide By Vehicle
  10. Involuntary Manslaughter
  11. Recklessly Endangering Another Person
  12. Manslaughter of a Law Enforcement Officer in the Second Degree
  13. Homicide by Vehicle While DUI
  14. Murder Of The Third Degree
  15. Homicide By Vehicle
  16. DUI: Gen Imp/Inc of Driving Safely – 1st Off
  17. Involuntary Manslaughter
  18. Recklessly Endangering Another Person
  19. Driving at Safe Speed
  20. Careless Driving
  21. Reckless Driving

According to the court docket, the third-degree murder counts were dismissed — apparently by a municipal court judge. However, the office of District Attorney Larry Krasner (D) told local journalists that prosecutors immediately re-filed the dismissed counts before a Court of Common Pleas judge on Wednesday. A formal arraignment in the latter court is scheduled for July 13.

The other counts proceeded straight from the municipal court to the court of common pleas in undisturbed fashion, according to a court docket.

“I think at the end of the day the judge made the right decision,” defense attorney Michael Walker told NBC affiliate WCAU and ABC affiliate WPVI regarding the dismissed-but-since-refiled counts. “Based on the law, it shouldn’t have ever been charged as a murder case. It was an accident.”

“We still have a long way to go,” Walker continued, again per WCAU. “There are a lot of charges still left and those charges are extremely serious and at the end of the day we still have people that perished. But today, we’re happy.”

Walker characterized Webb as a good person with a drinking problem.

In Pennsylvania, third-degree murder is defined in relation to first-degree and second-degree murder. Under state law, first-degree murder is an intentional killing, second-degree murder is felony murder (that is, it is a killing that is “committed” during an underlying felony), and third-degree murder is simply defined as “[a]ll other kinds of murder” not included in the preceding definitions. The judge who tossed the counts reasoned that the charge didn’t fit the alleged crime according to WCAU; WPVI said the decision was based on a “lack of evidence.”

The deadly crash occurred on Interstate 95 in South Philadelphia on March 21.

A WCAU-TV screengrab shows the scene where Mack, Sisca, and Oliveras were fatally injured.

As Law&Crime previously reported, state police say Mack and Sisca responded to reports of a pedestrian walking down I-95 near the Philadelphia Sports Complex — that’s where the city’s four major sports teams play their home games.  The two troopers secured Oliveras, the pedestrian, in a patrol vehicle when Webb allegedly attempted to pass the scene — reportedly by using the shoulder of the road.  Webb hit the troopers and their cruiser, the state police said.

“The impact was so great that it threw the troopers over into the northbound lanes of Interstate 95,” Capt. James Kremm said at a press conference in March.

Video of the incident suggested that everything occurred on an elevated stretch of highway.

The authorities have alleged that Webb’s blood alcohol level was .211 — well more than twice the legal limit of .08.  According to WCAU, the defendant told the police in March that she’d been drinking “strawberry Henny” — or Hennessy Cognac — before the crash.

Citing unnamed “sources,” the NBC station also said that the troopers had conducted a traffic stop on Webb “before they received a call about a man on the highway.” The two troopers apparently responded to the call to help the pedestrian — all to their ultimate peril.

Jayana Tanae Webb. (Image via WPVI screengrab.)

Jayana Tanae Webb. (Image via WPVI screengrab.)

The ABC affiliate reported similarly but added that Webb was believed to have been driving around 110 miles per hour at one point before the crash.

Webb’s bail was set at $600,000, WCAU reported. That’s $200,000 for each of the three people who died. Until Wednesday, she had been held without bail, according to WPVI.

WPVI also added that Webb was led to court on Thursday wearing handcuffs that were assigned to the fallen troopers.

The troopers who died both reportedly donated their organs in death.

[images as noted]

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Aaron Keller holds a juris doctor degree from the University of New Hampshire School of Law and a broadcast journalism degree from Syracuse University. He is a former anchor and executive producer for the Law&Crime Network and is now deputy editor-in-chief for the Law&Crime website. DISCLAIMER:  This website is for general informational purposes only. You should not rely on it for legal advice. Reading this site or interacting with the author via this site does not create an attorney-client relationship. This website is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney. Speak to a competent lawyer in your jurisdiction for legal advice and representation relevant to your situation.