UPDATE (July 27, 2018)-- Robert Kearney accepted a plea deal and was convicted of reckless homicide in Zoe Martin's death. Charges of leaving the scene of an accident causing death and possessing a look-a-like substance were dismissed.
Per the plea deal, Kearney will be sentenced to five years. He received 177 days of jail credit and 59 days of good time credit. One year of the sentence will be suspended.
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – An Indianapolis man is behind bars for allegedly causing a crash that killed a 7-year-old girl.
On October 13, 2017, just after noon, emergency crews were called to the scene of a crash on I-465 near Allisonville Road. Zoe Martin, 7, was seriously injured and died at Riley Hospital seven days later.
An investigation into the crash determined a 2003 Chevrolet Silverado, driven by 28-year-old Robert Kearney II of Indianapolis, was traveling at approximately 75 mph when it struck the rear end of a Ford Explorer traveling at 54 mph, driven by Elbert Martin.
The force of the impact caused the Explorer to spin sideways and strike a third vehicle. Zoe Martin was a backseat passenger in the Ford Explorer.
"A family lost a precious little girl because of somebody's negligence," said Indiana State Police Sgt. John Perrine.
In an affidavit, state police claim Kearney had been weaving erratically in traffic and driving nearly 20 mph over the limit causing the crash.
"While the rest of the traffic was slowing, Kearney was accelerating at the time and hit the vehicle Zoe was in," said Indiana State Police investigator Josh Watson.
After the crash, state police say Kearney tried to flee the scene but didn't get far in his damaged pickup. After getting a ride home with a tow truck driver, police say Kearney offered to pay the tow driver with prescription pills.
This week, police arrested Kearney and charged him with several crimes including reckless homicide.
According to court records, Kearney was charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated in Marion County in 2016 and again in Hamilton County just days before the fatal crash.
Investigators say Kearney got behind the wheel on a suspended license the day of the deadly wreck.
"We’re trying to provide justice for a truly innocent victim, a 7-year-old girl who was just riding one afternoon with her grandparents while she was out of school on fall break," said Watson.
Kearney faces the following charges:
- Reckless Homicide (Level 5 Felony)
- Leaving the Scene of an Accident Causing Death (Level 5 Felony)
- Possession a Look-Alike Substance (Class C Misdemeanor)
At the time of his arrest, Kearney also had an active warrant on a theft charge out of Johnson County.
State police say Zoe's death and so many other fatal crashes are completely avoidable if drivers simply pay attention on the road.
"The roads are dangerous. We do our best to keep them safe, but we need people to pay attention while they’re driving and abide by the law," said Perrine.