Woman denies claims she was driving in fiery crash that killed man, injured passenger on I-264

Maria Lara, 42, was charged with murder for the death of 33-year-old Dominique Johnson.
Published: Aug. 15, 2022 at 4:32 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) -A man was killed after police said a Louisville woman crashed a car on the Watterson Expressway while under the influence of alcohol.

Maria Lara, 42, was charged with murder for the death of 33-year-old Dominique Johnson.

After leaving a bar on Preston highway early Sunday morning, the arrest report said Lara crashed her car into the back of Johnson’s on I-264, causing Johnson’s car to go up in flames.

The passenger in the car Lara was alleged to have been driving was also injured and sent to the hospital. The arrest report said the passenger is expected to survive their injuries.

Lara is also facing charges for assault, criminal mischief and operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol.

According to the citation, Lara told police she remembered starting the car at the car but then blacked out. She claims that “the next thing she knew, she was in an accident.”

“She will maintain that someone else was operating the vehicle and had left the scene,” her attorney, Alex Fleming said.

Fleming said Monday at her arraignment, there’s more to the story than what police said.

“[Police] crafted this in such a way, they went to great lengths to try to put Ms. Gibson in that front seat,” Fleming said. “The reason they do this is the question as to whether or not she was in the front seat of the vehicle at the time.”

Police said they smelled alcohol on Lara’s breath after the crash and had bloodshot, glassy eyes.

Officers also found one of her earrings and her cell phone on the floorboard of the driver’s seat.

The citation said seat belt marks on Lara’s left shoulder going down to her right side also indicated she was on the driver side of the car.

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