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State will not file charges in single-vehicle crash that left one sister dead

By Staff | Jul 27, 2011

The state decided not to file a manslaughter charge against a Cape Coral woman accused in a September traffic accident that killed her sister.
On May 15, the State Attorney’s Office filed no information on the charge against Ruth McCarson Newman, 58, of 243 S.E. 45th St. Court documents state there was insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.
Defense attorney Kathleen Fitzgeorge represented Newman.
Fitzgeorge declined to comment on the case Wednesday.
A message left for Newman was not immediately returned.
Assistant State Attorney Stephanie Hoffman was assigned to the case.
Newman was arrested on April 13 for negligent manslaughter aggravated neglect elderly disabled adult in the death of Corliss McCarson Rhodes, 64.
On Sept. 23, Cape police responded to a report of a traffic crash at a home at 243 S.E. 45th St. Rhodes was found pinned between a 1984 GMC van and a palm tree, according to police officials. EMS pronounced her dead on scene.
An investigation allegedly revealed that Rhodes and Newman, along with a relative, had gone out to a night club, where they had all consumed alcohol. As Rhodes drove home, her sister became verbally and physically abusive, according to police reports.
Upon arriving in the driveway of the home on Southeast 45th Street, Newman continued to slap and strike Rhodes, according to police. She also refused to exit the van after Rhodes and the other relative asked her to.
Rhodes became frustrated and began to exit the van through the driver’s side door. Newman reportedly continued to swing her arms at her sister and reached into the driver’s seat, grabbing for Rhodes as she tried to get out.
Newman then moved into the driver’s area and took control of the van, according to police. Her flailing arms reportedly knocked the gear shift from park into reverse and the van, which was still running, started to travel backward.
Rhodes became caught in the driver’s door as the other relative in the van attempted to take control of the vehicle from Newman.
Newman reportedly began striking the other family member and the van kept moving backward.
At this point, Rhodes tried to press the brake pedal by hand as the vehicle continued to slowly travel. While she was near the floorboard attempting to do this, the other relative still attempted to try to take control of the van.
Newman reportedly continued to slap and strike the other relative. In the struggle, the gas pedal was depressed and the vehicle accelerated. Rhodes was still partially out, reaching in and and trying to hit the brake by hand.
When the van accelerated backward, Rhodes was dragged along. She was pinned between the van and the palm tree when the vehicle collided into it.
Newman was not injured in the crash, nor was the other family member.