SPRINGFIELD, Mo.– The jury deliberation has come to an end in the case of a Springfield woman accused of running over another woman with her car on Campbell Avenue in 2018.
The jury found defendant Elizabeth McKeown guilty of first-degree murder and guilty of armed criminal action Friday.
McKeown’s defense said they plan to file a motion for a new trial. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for September 2.
McKeown’s trial has remained ongoing this week, hearing arguments from the defense and prosecution along with numerous witnesses.
Elizabeth McKeown was charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action after crashing into the car of Barbara Foster and running over Foster with her vehicle in November 2018.
“At the beginning of the week, we thought it was like ripping a scab off an old wound and now it has healed a little bit,” said Foster’s daughter, Amber Sahagun. “It’s given us a little bit of closure and peace at least. We have to start that healing again.”
“It was just what I needed,” said Foster’s granddaughter Emileigh Sahagun about the guilty verdict against McKeown. “That was a lot to see these past couple days and that’s just what I needed to hear.”
Emileigh Sahagun was pregnant with her daughter when Foster was killed. Now she says her daughter is three years old and the family is trying to move on.
The jury was told to find McKeown not guilty of first-degree murder if they believed the defense proved McKeown had acted due to involuntary intoxication which deprived her of the ability to realize the wrongfulness of conduct.
The jury also had the option to instead find McKeown guilty of involuntary manslaughter and criminal negligence.
The trial began on June 6, with opening statements and witness testimony beginning on June 7.
Witnesses called to the stand included McKeown’s ex-husband, daughter, an Uber driver who witnessed the crash, the Greene County Medical Examiner, a pharmaceutical expert, a clinical psychologist, and a forensic psychologist.
The defense chose not to bring McKeown to the stand to testify on her own behalf.
“The more that they didn’t come back, the more we thought that maybe it was a hung jury or a mistrial or maybe they were going for something less than murder one, but we got what we wanted and we’re pretty happy,” Emileigh Sahagun said.
Both defense and prosecution agreed that McKeown was driving her vehicle under the influence at the time of the incident, likely from cough syrup. The defense argued that McKeown was suffering from a rare liver condition which, in reaction to dextromethorphan contained in the cough syrup, caused her to have strong reactions including psychosis and hallucinations.
“I think that the state handled themselves very well, they did their job, they did it effectively,” said Amber Sahagun. “I honestly feel like that cough syrup and the whole act, it was an act. She was a nurse she knew what she was doing, she knew exactly the game to play, she knew the angles to go through. It was just…it was just smoke and mirrors with her.”
McKeown did not test positive for alcohol but did have an irregularly high level of dextromethorphan in her body after the crash.
“She was a strong, resilient woman,” Amber Sahagun said of her mother. “She literally had three years sober. She had worked herself to become a better person, she had just bought her own home. She helped me take care of my kids when I was going through rough times in my life. She was just a beautiful person, she would have helped you no matter what. She would have given you the short off her back. And to have someone rip her away from us senselessly…it was cruel.”