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Family Angry That Driver In Fatal Accident May Get Plea Deal

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Matt Hersl
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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Calls for justice. The family of a beloved city worker killed in a devastating car crash say they’ve lost faith in the State Attorney’s Office. This, as they claim prosecutors are considering a plea deal for the man who is accused in Matthew Hersl’s death.

Meghan McCorkell spoke with angry family members.

Johnny Johnson faces nine charges–including vehicular manslaughter–in the death of longtime city worker Matthew Hersl.

Investigators say Johnny Johnson was driving 115 miles per hour on the JFX before he lost control near City Hall, killing pedestrian Matthew Hersl.

“We just want to hear the truth, what happened that day,” said Steve Hersl, the victim’s brother.

But Hersl’s family says city prosecutors are considering a plea deal.

“We had made it known to the State’s Attorney’s Office that we, as a family, did not even want to consider them offering a plea,” said Jane Shott, Hersl’s sister.

According to a crash report, Johnson was high while driving, with both heroin and cocaine found inside his car.

“We feel the case is cut and dry. You know, we have all the witnesses in the world,” Steve Hersl said.

Legal expert Byron Warnken, http://www.warnkenlaw.com, says the family’s pressure could pay off.

“I think the pressure from the family will probably up that ante a little bit and they’ll probably get a plea to something higher than they might have gotten if they had been silent,” he said.

In a statement, State’s Attorney Gregg Bernstein said, “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.”

A memorial tree has been planted in front of City Hall in the spot where Hersl was struck.

“I’m here to keep my brother’s memory alive and see the right thing done,” Steve Hersl said.

They think the right thing is going to court.

According to that crash report, multiple cameras caught the incident, including the dash cam of a state trooper that followed Johnson after witnessing his speed on the JFX.

Johnson’s trial is currently scheduled to start on Dec. 12.

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