Family of slain city employee Matt Hersl does not want plea deal in manslaughter case

BALTIMORE - Family members of a man killed by a speeding car in Baltimore City earlier this year say they don't want prosecutors to offer a plea deal to the suspect in the case.

Matt Hersl was killed on April 9 th, in front of Baltimore City Hall.  He was walking past the building when a car sped down Holliday Street, lost control and landed on him.

The driver, Johnny Johnson, faces charges of vehicular homicide along with drug charges.

Members of Hersl's family held a news conference at the scene on Tuesday.  They say a representative from the Baltimore City State's Attorney's office called them a day earlier, and said the state was preparing to offer Johnson a plea deal.

"We as a family did not even want to consider them offering a plea," said Jane Shott, Matt Hersl's sister.  "And we made it pretty clear, so when they did come back and said that they were going to consider a plea bargain here we were floored. Yeah we were very disappointed."

In a report on the crash taken by Maryland State Police after the crash, a state trooper said he first spotted a car driving erratically in the southbound lanes of I-83.  The driver took the Pleasant Street exit, and continued toward City Hall.

The trooper told investigators he put on his police lights and followed the car.  But he said he had stopped at a red light a block away from City Hall when he saw that the crash had happened.

Family members say they believe the trooper may have been chasing the car, which was later found to be driven by Johnny Johnson.

They say without a trial they might never know exactly how the crash happened.

"Our family believes that a lot of things have been held up and just not brought forth to us and we're very upset," said Steve Hersl, Matt's brother.  "It's just dragging this case on as far as our family, friends and other communities.  It's getting closure to Matt's death.  We want closure we want what's right and that's all we're asking for."

Baltimore City State's Attorney Gregg Bernstein released a statement on Tuesday, which read in part:  "Our duty to the victim's family and to the City is to pursue justice by mounting a thorough investigation and an aggressive prosecution.  Justice also requires me to refrain from commenting on pending cases, although I will say that my thoughts are with Mr. Hersl's family.  The penalties available for those convicted of vehicular manslaughter are woefully inadequate for individuals who engage in this type of conduct that endangers the lives of innocent citizens, and I understand and appreciate the family's grief and frustration."

Johnny Johnson's trial is currently scheduled for December 12.

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