Public Safety

Cedar Rapids woman convicted in 2009 fatal crash faces new drunken driving charge

(FILE PHOTO) Connie Jo Gates glances away as the judge sentences her to 30 years in prison on charges of homicide by vehicle while under the influence of drugs, homicide by vehicle while attempting to elude, operating a vehicle without owner’s consent and possession of a controlled substance at the Linn County Courthouse in Cedar Rapids on Thursday, August 13, 2009. Gates was found guilty by a jury in the death of Dankert, whose cab she hit while fleeing police in a stolen car. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
(FILE PHOTO) Connie Jo Gates glances away as the judge sentences her to 30 years in prison on charges of homicide by vehicle while under the influence of drugs, homicide by vehicle while attempting to elude, operating a vehicle without owner’s consent and possession of a controlled substance at the Linn County Courthouse in Cedar Rapids on Thursday, August 13, 2009. Gates was found guilty by a jury in the death of Dankert, whose cab she hit while fleeing police in a stolen car. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — A Cedar Rapids woman previously convicted of causing a crash that killed a cabdriver in 2009 was charged Monday with drunken driving.

Connie Jo Gates, 46, while on parole, was charged with a second offense of operating while intoxicated. Cedar Rapids police officers stopped Gates at 1026 A Ave. NE on Sunday for being under the influence of alcohol, according to a criminal complaint. She refused to take a breathalyzer at the Linn County Jail after her arrest, the complaint shows.

If convicted, Gates faces up to five years in prison, but she could face more prison time if her parole is revoked.

Gates served about seven years of her 30-year sentence for homicide by vehicle while under the influence of drugs, homicide by vehicle while attempting to elude, operating a vehicle without the owner’s consent and possession of a controlled substance.

A Linn County jury found her guilty in June 2009 and she was sentenced the following August. During the trial, a police video of the March 25, 2009, chase was shown to jurors in which Gates, driving a stolen car, fled from police, ran through red lights and rammed a Yellow Cab driven by Richard Dankert, 76, of Cedar Rapids.

Police officers testified that Gates’ car was traveling up to 100 mph on Interstate 380 before exiting onto Wilson Avenue SW and crashing into the cab, according to testimony.

Gates admitted in a police interview that she smoked crack cocaine for two days and smoked crack and marijuana the night of the crash.

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A urine test taken at the hospital showed the concentration of marijuana in Gates’ system was over 135 nanograms per milliliter and the concentration of cocaine was over 3,000 nanograms per milliliter — both exceeded the maximum amounts measurable by the lab’s testing equipment, according to testimony.

The defense claimed the fatal crash was an accident, not Gates’ fault.

Linn County Attorney Jerry Vander Sanden said Monday a preliminary parole violation has been issued by Gates’ parole officer. If her parole is revoked, she would be sent back to prison to serve the remainder of the sentence or until she is granted parole again.

She remains in jail under a $10,000 bond for the new charge, and no bail is allowed for the parole violation.

Vander Sanden said a hearing on the parole violation will likely be set before the OWI charge is resolved. Her parole could be revoked whether she is convicted or not.

l Comments: (319) 398-8318; trish.mehaffey@thegazette.com

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