Driver in Anchorage fatal crash charged with murder

Woman's blood-alcohol level was more than four times legal limit

Posted: Thursday, November 12, 2009

ANCHORAGE - A woman with multiple DUIs on her record has been charged with murder, assault and drunken driving following a head-on crash that killed a man and critically injured a woman last week.

Court documents filed Tuesday say Lori Phillips, 55, of Anchorage, had a blood-alcohol level more than four times the legal limit for driving and couldn't remember Thursday night's collision on Seward Highway.

Phillips had been reported as a drunken driver twice in the minutes before her SUV crossed the center line, killing Louis James Clement, 23, and injuring Joyua Stovall, 29, Anchorage police said.

Phillips has been convicted of three DUIs since 1983. She was charged with a fourth in March, but was released from jail on the condition she neither drink nor drive.

Police found Phillips smelling of alcohol, with bloodshot eyes and slurred speech. Police estimated her blood-alcohol level at between 0.34 and 0.35, according to an affidavit filed in court by Anchorage police investigator Steve Buchta.

"She said she did not remember driving or the collision," Buchta wrote.

Phillips appeared in court Tuesday for a bail hearing on the misdemeanor charge of violating the conditions of her March release. Phillips told the judge she is self-employed and had started alcohol treatment since her last arrest. She described her decision to get behind the wheel last week as a momentary lapse in judgment.

City prosecutor Jennifer Messick said in court that repeated attempts to get Phillips to sober up have failed. Phillips has had numerous contacts with police and in each case, Messick said, she had been drinking or was drunk.

"We need to keep people in this community safe," Messick said. "This isn't about punishing her. This isn't about deterring her. This is about preventing her from driving, preventing her from drinking, quite simply."

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