Driver faces new charge in fatal wreck

Rupcke

A Graves County grand jury has indicted a woman on a new charge in connection with a fatal December hit-and-run wreck.

Jasmine Marie Rupcke, 21, of Mayfield now faces a charge of tampering with a witness, a felony punishable by one to five years in prison, in addition to her original charges of leaving the scene of an accident/failure to render aid or assistance with death of serious physical injury, failure to produce an insurance card, failure to register the transfer of a motor vehicle and not having a driver's license. She was indicted Friday.

Previously, Rupcke faced up to five years in prison if convicted of leaving the scene of an accident/failure to render aid or assistance. The other original charges were misdemeanors, which must run at the same time as sentences for a felony.

With the new charge also being a felony, Rupcke could now face double the time, up to 10 years in prison, if convicted of both felonies. That is because sentences for felonies may either be run consecutively (back to back) or concurrently (at the same time).

Commonwealth Attorney Richie Kemp said his office brought the additional charge for consideration by the grand jury after reviewing the case.

Rupcke is out of jail on a $5,000 surety bond signed for by her grandmother. Bond conditions include that she not drive and that she make all scheduled court appearances. She could receive a new bond in court this week to go along with the new charge, or the court could leave her bond the same.

The indictments move all further proceedings in the case against Rupcke to circuit court and also transfer the prosecution from the county attorney's office to Kemp's office.

Both the Graves Circuit Clerk's Office and Kemp confirmed the indictments late Friday afternoon. Kemp gave no other details other than that the case was investigated by the Graves County Sheriff's Office and that Rupcke was represented in her most recent court proceedings by the Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy. Her public defender at her preliminary hearing was Cirris Hatfield.

According to the Graves County Sheriff's Office citation in Rupcke's public court file, Rupcke admitted driving a van that hit a pedestrian about 6 p.m. Dec. 17 on U.S. 45, north of Mayfield. "A pedestrian was struck by the vehicle and carried several feet down the roadway before being thrown from the vehicle," Chief Deputy Sheriff Davant Ramage wrote in the citation.

The collision killed Amanda Czerwien of Mayfield, who was walking home from her shift at the Pilgrim's Pride poultry processing plant.

The wreck occurred near the Kubota dealership on U.S. 45. Investigators found Czerwien lying in the road, but no vehicle in the immediate vicinity.

She was pronounced dead at the scene.

According to the citation, Rupcke said she stopped and called her passenger's mother after the wreck to tell her they were going to the hospital because her passenger was hurt from the impact. She then went to a home on Dorothy Lane, where a friend called state police to report an accident involving a deer.

Rupcke's friend, Corvin Crawford, bought the 2005 Dodge minivan about six months before the wreck, according to the citation. The title and registration had never been transferred. The citation also notes that Rupcke has never had a driver's license.