Driven To Extremes

<b><I>48 Hours Mystery</I></b> Tracks A Mother Charged With Manslaughter In Car Crash

Two and a half years after the accident, the trial has been delayed three times, and the pressure on Mary and Dennis Hill has reached the breaking point.

New charges have been filed in court that takes this case from the tragic to the bizarre. Now, Mary wants a divorce, claiming that Dennis is violent and sexually abusive. And Dennis has counter-attacked with allegations that Mary has a history of drug abuse and alcoholism.

The battle plans are piling up in what has become the War of the Hills. "And the War of the Hills is almost as dramatic as the War of the Roses," says Dennis, who believes Mary should not have been charged. "If they would've followed us around and filmed this thing, it would've made a heck of a movie."

In spite of Dennis' public support, Mary has thrown him out and even got a restraining order against him. "Dennis was into physical pain for sexual gratification. Both giving and receiving," says Mary. "It got to be far too much."

"That's absolutely not true. In 25 years, I never hit that woman," says Dennis, who denies sexually abusing his wife. "Absolutely not."

But Mary says she's afraid of Dennis: "He admitted openly in court, after I filed the injunction to keep him away from me, he was going to slash my face to pieces and see me disappear."

"I got so mad," explains Dennis. "I said 'You know, Mary, I'd like to get a two by four and just come and smash your face in.' Of course, I regret saying that."

But there's another casualty in the War of the Hills: their 13-year-old daughter, Kaitlin, who claims that her mother once told her that she wished Kaitlin had died in the accident instead of Amy.

"That is true. I'm not perfect, and yes, I did. And I apologized," says Mary. "And I apologize to this day. But I was so consumed with the loss of Amy."

With Mary facing homicide charges and Dennis accused of domestic violence, both parents lost custody of Kaitlin, who was sent to live with her older half-sister, Jennifer.

"I've lost two daughters. I can't accept that, I'll never accept it," says Dennis. "I'll fight until they put me in the ground."

As Mary's trial date finally nears, she has hired Tim Berry to represent her.

The trial Mary Hill has waited three and a half years for was about to begin. In August 2000, Hill's BMW slammed into a tree, killing her daughter, Amy, and Amy's best friend, Carrie Brown. "I wish I could change everything that happened that day," says Mary.

If Mary is found guilty, she faces the possibility of up to 30 years in prison. "I'll die in prison," says Mary. "This is a fight for my life."

Attorney Tim Berry, who will lead Mary's defense team, claims a malfunctioning cruise control made Mary's BMW speed out of control. He's not sure, however, if he'll put Mary on the stand.

An all-female jury was to determine Mary's fate. They must decide if she's guilty of vehicular homicide, manslaughter and negligence for Zak Rockwell's injuries.

In his opening statement, Prosecutor Bart Schneider says it's clear Mary's reckless driving killed Amy and Carrie. But Berry tells the jury the real culprit in this tragedy is the car itself. And despite Mary's well-publicized record of mental and marital problems, Berry claims his client is not suicidal or homicidal.

The prosecution, however, uses eyewitness Jimmy Arthur to prove their theory that Mary was driving out of control.

With emotions running high, Dennis Hill is called to the stand, and the lead prosecutor, Pat Whitaker, tries to use Dennis to undermine Mary's claim that the BMW was defective. When asked about the BMW, Dennis testifies that he had no problems with the BMW that day.