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Judge denies bond for woman charged in crash that killed newlywed, saying she's a flight risk

Bride killed by suspected drunk driver
Bride killed by suspected drunk driver hours after her wedding 05:07

A South Carolina circuit court judge has denied bond to a woman charged with rear-ending a golf cart in a crash that killed newlywed Samantha Miller, 34, and injured three other passengers. 

Miller, who had just gotten married earlier in the evening and was still in her wedding dress, was in the golf cart with her husband, Aric Hutchinson, and two other passengers. Police said that Jamie Lee Komoroski, 25, was driving a rental car at 65 miles per hour in an area where the limit is 25 miles per hour, and had a blood alcohol level three times higher than the state's legal limit when her vehicle collided with the golf cart on a beach road. 

Komoroski was charged with one count of reckless homicide resulting in death and three counts of felony DUI resulting in great bodily injury or death. 

When denying bond, Judge Michael Nettles said that he deemed Komoroski a flight risk and a danger to the community. 

Memorial held for North Carolina bride killed in crash shortly after wedding 00:29

"The defendant is to be commended for recognizing her alcoholism. However, in my opinion, rehab would be most effective at the conclusion of this matter," Nettles said. "If tried and found not guilty, rehabilitation should be in order. If convicted, she could take advantage of the addiction treatment unit while incarcerated by the Department of Corrections. This is certainly a very tragic situation for all concerned." 

The judge also set a deadline for Komoroski's trial, saying that if it does not start by March 2024, the 25-year-old should be released on a $150,000 surety bond, meaning the entire amount must be paid before she was released. That release would have other conditions, such as placing Komoroski on house arrest, requiring her to maintain residency in Charleston County, and having her wear a monitor that tracked her alcohol consumption. Komoroski would also have to surrender her passport and would not be allowed to drive. Nettles asked that both sides work to expedite the trial.

"I think it would give closure for everybody," he said. 

Bride Killed
This undated photo shows Samantha Miller and her groom-to-be Aric Hutchinson. Authorities say Miller, a bride leaving her wedding reception was killed when a woman driving under the influence and well over twice the speed limit slammed into the back of a golf cart on a South Carolina beach road, Friday, April 28, 2023.  AP

Family members of both Miller and Komoroski spoke before Nettles issued his ruling. CBS affiliate WCSC reported that Komoroski, who appeared virtually, became visibly emotional as Miller's family spoke. 

When asked for comment on the judge's ruling by WCSC, Komoroski's attorney Chris Gramiccioni said, "The judge's findings spoke for itself."

In a later statement, Gramiccioni said, "We appreciate the court's decision to release Jamie on bond in March 2024 if the State is not ready for trial, but we nonetheless believe that she has met the legal criteria for release today." 

Miller's family also addressed the media outside the courthouse, with her sister Mandi Jenkins saying she was "crying happy tears" at the judge's decision. 

"I'm happy because I feel like it's been three months, and that time hasn't been served and she is a risk of flight and she is a danger to society," Jenkins said. "And the judge felt that."

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