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Driver charged with murder in fatal wreck involving Salyersville woman

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PRESTONSBURG – Ten months after a fatal Floyd County crash that killed a Salyersville woman, a Floyd County grand jury indicted the driver of the other vehicle for murder.

The City of Prestonsburg Police Department released last Thursday that the grand jury had returned an indictment on Elizabeth Sue Lemaster, 40, of Meally, for the murder of Jessica Owens, of Salyersville.

The indictment stems from a two-vehicle collision that occurred on May 23, 2018 on KY Rt. 3/321, near the Highlands Regional Medical Center caution light. 
Police determined that a 2002 Toyota SUV, driven by Lemaster, had crossed the center line and hit a 2007 Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedan head-on, resulting in the death of Owens. 

Following an extensive, six-month investigation, Sergeant Ross Shurtleff determined that Lemaster, who was on parole for a 2013 drug trafficking conviction, was under the influence of multiple drugs at the time of the wreck, including but not limited to methamphetamine, while also driving without a valid operator’s license. 

Law enforcement determined that Lemaster left the roadway, struck a guardrail, then reentered the road, crossing into Owens’ path of travel, striking her vehicle and causing her death, the press release stated.

Owens, a radiology technician at Highlands Regional Medical Center reportedly had just left work at the time of the accident. She was pronounced deceased at the scene.

After Floyd County Circuit Judge Johnny Ray Harris signed the warrant of indictment, Lemaster was served while being housed at the Big Sandy Regional Detention Center for a parole violation for separate felony drug charges she incurred while the investigation was ongoing. She was transferred on Friday, March 22 to the Floyd County Detention Center, where she remains at press time.

Lemaster is currently facing the following charges: murder, first-degree wanton endangerment, operating a motor vehicle under the influence (aggravating circumstance), reckless driving, failure to wear seatbelts, instructional permit violations, and first-degree persistent felony offender. 

Lemaster is scheduled to be arraigned on April 15 at 9 a.m. in Floyd County court.

Editor's Note: The indictment or charge of a person by a grand jury or otherwise is an accusation only and that person is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

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Heather Oney