Driver Guilty of Murder in Vehicular Death of 22-Year-Old Woman
A Bucks County jury this morning found Louis Gene Demora guilty of third-degree murder and all lesser charges for killing a young Croydon motorist while driving high on heroin at nearly 90 miles per hour.
After two days of testimony, the jury took less than an hour to convict Demora of the murder charge, homicide by vehicle, homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence, DUI, reckless driving, and exceeding the maximum speed by 63 mph.
Judge Brian T. McGuffin, who presided over the trial, ordered Demora’s bail revoked and deferred sentencing until a pre-sentence investigation could be conducted.
Demora, 53, of Croydon, was driving at least 88 miles per hour in a 25-mph zone on Dec. 20 when his GMC SUV crashed into a Nissan Sentra driven by 22-year-old Jenna Richards.
Richards, an athlete who lived less than three blocks away, was headed to a gym to work out when Demora’s vehicle slammed into her at River Road and Cedar Avenue.
The impact almost cut Richards’ sedan in half, sending it hurtling into two parked vehicles in a nearby driveway, killing her. Demora’s SUV went airborne, skidding to a stop upside-down a half-block away.
“This is gross, dangerous, catastrophic speed that results in death,” Deputy District Attorney Robert D. James argued to the jury on Wednesday, calling the defendant “a heroin-riddled speed demon.”
Demora’s urine tested positive for heroin, cocaine and Xanax shortly after the crash. Multiple witnesses said he told them at the scene that he was trying to commit suicide when the collision happened and did not intend to harm Richards.
“He was trying to kill himself, and he used Jenna as a tool,” James told the jury. “Saying you’re sorry doesn’t cut it. Saying you’re sorry doesn’t excuse your behavior.”
Defense attorney Michael Lacson said that Demora “was remorseful” and “felt strong guilt” even before being identified as a criminal suspect.
“These aren’t the words of a person with malice,” Lacson told the jury. “These aren’t the words of a murderer.”
Lacson argued that Richards, by turning left into the path of Demora’s SUV, had caused the accident. As a result, he said, Demora could not be convicted of any level of homicide. He contended that Demora had no time to react before striking her vehicle.
James countered that, had Demora been driving the speed limit, Richards would have had 13 seconds to make the left turn from the time she first saw his oncoming vehicle.
Because she had no way of knowing Demora was driving almost four times the speed limit, “it was reasonable for her to turn left” when she did, James told the jury.
“Jenna wasn’t the hazard, he was,” James said, pointing at Demora. “The hazard is, you don’t drive 89 miles per hour in a 25 mile-per-hour speed zone. She did not expect that. Nobody would.”
Friends and relatives of the victim packed the courtroom throughout the trial. Among them was Richards’ father, who testified that he was wrapping Christmas presents when the crash occurred. He walked that night from his house to the wreckage, where he learned his middle child was dead.
James said he hoped the verdict “will stop someone out there from driving after drinking or taking drugs, whether illegal or prescribed. Too many innocent lives are lost due to this selfish behavior.”
Jenna Richards, he added, “was a special person. Her loss has affected many lives. I hope this verdict by the jury can help heal the deep wounds left by her loss just five days before last Christmas.”
The case was investigated by the Bristol Township Police Department.
Contact: Robert D. James, 215.348.6332, firstname.lastname@example.org
Approved for release by Thomas C. Gannon, Deputy District Attorney.