NORTH HAVERHILL, N.H. – A former Fortune 500 executive on Thursday admitted that he killed a pregnant woman, her fiance and their fetus in what he called a failed suicide attempt when he drove his pickup truck across a highway median into oncoming traffic.
Robert Dellinger, a former Sprint chief financial officer, pleaded guilty to negligent homicide for the 2013 deaths of 24-year-old Amanda Murphy and 29-year-old Jason Timmons, of Wilder, Vermont. He also pleaded guilty to assault for the death of their fetus; Murphy was eight months pregnant.
“I’m extremely remorseful to the families, and to my own family, as well. I wish I could have that day over,” Dellinger said in court.
Dellinger, of Sunapee, New Hampshire, was initially charged with manslaughter, but that was later upped to second-degree murder. Negligent homicide is a lesser charge. Prosecutors have asked for a 12-to-24-year prison term when Dellinger is sentenced in early April.
Attorney Stephen Gordon maintains that Dellinger was not attempting suicide, but rather suffering from delirium due to a “toxic regime” of prescription medications for multiple sclerosis and depression and from withdrawal from Ambien. He did not specify a sentence term.
Prosecutors said Dellinger, 54, told investigators he was trying to kill himself on Dec. 7, 2013, when he steered his pickup across a highway median in Lebanon, New Hampshire. The truck went airborne and sheared off the top of an SUV the couple was driving in the northbound lane. Dellinger suffered cuts and bruises.
On the day of the accident, prosecutor Geoffrey Ward said Dellinger’s wife, Deborah, kicked him out of the house because he wasn’t contributing to his own wellness by ignoring doctor’s orders about his sleep needs and curfews. She moved her car so he could drive away in his truck.
He said Dellinger “stated that earlier in the day he had a disagreement with his wife and went to Vermont to drive around. He said he was very depressed and gloomy and wanted to have a car wreck and kill himself.”
Ward said the “black box” in Dellinger’s car showed he reached a top speed of 101 mph in the seconds before the accident and was going 87 mph a second before his air bag deployed – the point of impact with the SUV.
His truck never touched down in the northbound lane, but landed on the shoulder after shearing off the top of the SUV. Before the accident, he had bounced off guard rails on both sides of southbound Interstate 89.
The medical examiner’s report compared the injuries suffered by Murphy and Timmons to those of plane crash victims.
Dellinger was Sprint’s chief financial officer before leaving in 2005 for a similar job at Delphi. He was a senior vice president and chief financial officer at PPG Industries Inc. when he left in 2011 because of health problems.