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Copyright 2018 Portland Newspapers Jun 5, 2018
Portland Press Herald
ALFRED — A woman accused of driving onto a youth baseball field in Sanford and killing a man attending the game was ordered held on $500,000 cash bail Monday.
York County Superior Court Justice Wayne Douglas also ordered a mental health evaluation for Carol Sharrow and scheduled the next court hearing in the case for Sept. 5.
The 51-year-old Sanford woman is accused of killing Douglas Parkhurst of West Newfield with her car during a Babe Ruth baseball game Friday evening at Goodall Park. Witnesses said Parkhurst, 68, pushed some children out of the path of the car before he was hit.
The bail amount is unusually high for someone facing a manslaughter charge. One defense attorney with no connection to the case said the judge was likely trying to ensure that Sharrow remains in custody and does not pose a danger to the community.
Tina Nadeau, executive director of the Maine Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, said she couldn't recall another case of alleged manslaughter in which the bail was set so high. Given Sharrow's apparent lack of means, Nadeau said, it's equivalent to ordering her held without bail.
The judge also may have given what Sharrow is accused of doing more weight than whether she's a flight risk, Nadeau said.
"The public was really put at risk that night and that's why I think the judge is setting (bail) so high," she said.
Sharrow has two previous convictions for drunken driving, police said Monday morning, but authorities aren't saying whether alcohol was a factor in the incident Friday. In a death involving a vehicle, police draw blood from the driver to do a toxicology screening.
Assistant District Attorney Thad West, the prosecutor at the brief hearing Monday, said the investigation into Parkhurst's death is continuing and that details — including a police affidavit with an official account of the incident and the reasons for Sharrow's arrest — were being withheld until the investigation is complete.
If convicted, Sharrow faces a sentence of up to 30 years in prison.
Sharrow's attorney, Robert Ruffner, did not oppose the high bail, but reserved the right to challenge it and seek lower bail at a later date. He said he didn't know if Sharrow or her family members had the means to post that much bail.
Sharrow, wearing orange jail overalls, seemed impassive during Monday's hearing. She could hardly be seen, with Ruffner and court officers standing between her and observers. About 20 people were in the courtroom, but they declined to be interviewed and left immediately after the hearing without commenting.
Sanford police Detective Sgt. Matthew Jones said Sharrow has a drunken-driving conviction in Maine and an aggravated drunken-driving conviction in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Jones also said Sharrow has a history of mental health issues. He would not elaborate, and declined to comment on what her mental state might have been Friday evening. He said she was reported missing in 2014 and found in the woods about 24 hours after she was last seen at a local restaurant.
Ruffner said he was appointed to the case Monday morning and spoke with Sharrow before the hearing. He declined to characterize his client's mood, offer a motive for why she drove onto the field or provide any information on the case, including whether she was drinking Friday evening.
The bizarre sight of a car careening around the field stunned players on the field and spectators watching the game. And in an unusual twist, the man who was struck and killed had confessed a fewfive years ago to the hit-and-run death of a 4-year-old girl in Fulton, New York, in 1968. Parkhurst was never prosecuted because the statute of limitations had run out.
Relatives of the girl said news that Parkhurst had been killed by a driver in Sanford brought closure to the family.
Ruffner said there was "no information either way" on whether Sharrow and Parkhurst knew each other before Friday evening.
Sharrow's psychological examination will probably be conducted over the next couple of months, Ruffner said, but the results won't be made public unless they become an issue in the case — if Ruffner tries to argue that his client is not competent to stand trial or not criminally responsible for her actions, for example.
No one answered doorbells Monday morning at the four-unit apartment building where Sharrow lived.
Biddeford Journal Tribune Reporter Tammy Wells contributed to this report.
Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at: