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Woman Sent to State Prison for Killing 83-Year-Old Motorist

September 5, 2017

Contact: Robert D. James, 215.348.6332, rdjames@buckscounty.org

Barbara Cleveland(2)
    Barbara Cleveland

A Delaware woman who killed an 83-year-old motorist while speeding and driving with a suspended license was sentenced this morning to serve two to four years in state prison.

Barbara Lynn Cleveland, 49, of Wilmington, whose license had been suspended for medical reasons, had pleaded guilty March 27 to homicide by vehicle and other charges in the death of Lucille Kain.

Kain, 83, of Bensalem, was on an afternoon drive to the post office on April 11, 2016, when Cleveland drove her Chevrolet Cruze sedan through a red light at Hulmeville and Galloway Roads, striking the driver’s side of the victim’s Chrysler minivan.

A crash reconstruction report said that Cleveland was driving 58 miles per hour in a 40 mph zone.

Morphine and another prescription medication were found in her blood, although the drugs were not determined to have been at a level that would have impaired Cleveland’s ability to drive safely.

In addition, Cleveland’s Delaware driver’s license was suspended at the time of the crash for medical reasons. She is legally blind in one eye and suffers from a number of other conditions, including severe diabetes and coronary artery disease.

“Honest to God, it was an unforeseen accident,” Cleveland told Bucks County Common Pleas Court Judge Wallace H. Bateman Jr. “I have never, ever blacked out like that with my sugar (levels).”

Bateman, however, said that Cleveland’s decision to drive in spite of her medical conditions made a crash inevitable.

“Your license was suspended, and you are medically disqualified” from driving, the judge told her. “You should never have been on the road.”

In emotional victim-impact statements, Lucille Kain was mourned by several relatives, including her sister and her two daughters, as a vibrant, cheerful woman who doted on her family; an accomplished singer, baker and seamstress who worked as a cafeteria manager for the Bensalem School District for more than 30 years.

“My mother was senselessly handed a death sentence … for nothing more than driving to the post office,” said her daughter, Lucille Luszczak. “My mother did nothing to deserve such a horrible death. We, her family, have been handed a sentence of life. A life of grief. The loss of this beautiful person has left a vast deficit.”

The victim’s twin sister, Ellen Bill, said, “A part of me went with her. I miss her so much. Your honor, I forgive this girl, this woman, because nothing’s going to bring her back.”

Cleveland and her attorney, Joseph Capone, both turned and apologized to Kain’s family. “If I could change places, I would in a heartbeat,” Cleveland told them.

Capone asked Bateman to consider putting Cleveland on probation, but Deputy District Attorney Robert D. James said she deserved a state prison sentence.

“The fact of the matter is that we cannot change places with people in life,” James said. “Lucille Kain is dead and it’s the defendant’s fault.”

Despite knowing that her medical restrictions prohibited her from driving safely, James said, “she drove anyway, almost 20 miles per hour over the speed limit.”

Calling the facts of the case “quite upsetting,” Bateman agreed that state prison time was appropriate, along with a concurrent five years of probation.

“I don’t believe deep down that you are a bad person who set out to hurt somebody that day,” Bateman told Cleveland. “I think you are irresponsible.”

Approved for release by Antonetta Stancu, Deputy District Attorney.

Office of the District Attorney
Bucks County Justice Center
100 N. Main Street
Doylestown, PA 18901 
Phone: 215-348-6344 
Fax: 215-348-6299

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