Bowie man pleads guilty to manslaughter by auto

A Bowie man pleaded guilty Friday to a single count of negligent manslaughter by automobile in connection with a single-vehicle crash in Dunkirk, which claimed the life of a female Army National Guardsman.

The defendant, Daniel John Burridge, 36, entered his plea in Calvert County Circuit Court before Judge Mark Chandlee.

According to court documents, the crash occurred shortly before 4 a.m. July 21 on Southern Maryland Boulevard in the area of West Ward Road. Burridge was driving a Dodge Neon SRT. The investigating officer, Dfc. Jeffrey Hardesty of the Calvert County Sheriff’s Office stated that Burridge’s Neon “left the roadway and struck a telephone pole on the southbound side of Southern Maryland Boulevard just south of the intersection with Ward Road.”

A passenger in the Neon — identified as Orianna Sherezade Motta Gaitan, 27, of North Beach — was pronounced dead at the scene.

According to Hardesty, witnesses saw the Neon’s driver “exit the vehicle and flee to a nearby Wawa at the corner of Ward Road.” Witnesses told police, “the driver entered the Wawa and cleaned himself up in the bathroom. After exiting the bathroom, the driver purchased a one-gallon jug of water and exited the store on the west side of the building,” Hardesty stated in charging papers.

Police apprehended Burridge about two hours later after an extensive manhunt, which involved the utilization of a drone and K9 unit. The defendant was apprehended in the area of Coopers United Methodist Church.

“Burridge had the strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on his breath,” Hardesty stated. “Burridge was located with the ignition key to the Dodge Neon inside his pocket.”

When Calvert County Assistant State’s Attorney Timothy Maher read the statement of facts into the record at the plea hearing, he noted that investigators learned that Burridge had been to several bars in the Washington, D.C., area prior to the crash. After his capture, Burridge was taken to Calvert Health Medical Center for an assessment and blood testing. Gaitan was the mother of one and a native of Bogata, Columbia. Her family moved to the U.S. when she was a teenager. She joined the Army National Guard after graduating with honors from high school in Kentucky.

Burridge, who was represented at the hearing by attorney James Lamont Rhodes, requested a pre-sentence investigation.

After initially being held without bond, Burridge was released in September on $100,000 bond. He is subject to GPS monitoring, and any vehicle he operates must be equipped with an interlock. At the conclusion of the plea hearing, Chandlee ordered that Burridge be tested for any dangerous substances.

The test results were negative. Burridge’s sentencing is tentatively set for April 27.

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