ELKTON — A woman is facing vehicular homicide and manslaughter charges after she ran over one of her theft accomplices in the Walmart parking lot early Saturday morning while trying to flee the crime scene, police reported Monday.
Investigators identified the victim as Keneesha Cunningham, 35, of Wilmington, Del., who was run over at about 1:15 a.m. Saturday in Row 3 of the parking lot at the Walmart Supercenter in the 1000 block of East Pulaski Highway, according to the Elkton Police Department.
Cunningham was using her body to conceal the rear license plate of a 2006 Chevrolet Impala — the alleged getaway vehicle — as a Walmart security officer attempted to take a photo of the tag after witnessing Cunningham and her two companions shoplift at the store, police said.
At that moment, the driver, Chermaine Tee Mayo, 38, also of Wilmington, Del., gunned the car in reverse and ran over Cunningham, police added.
“The vehicle began to speed away backwards, with Mayo driving and Cunningham sitting on the trunk. As the car was moving backwards through the parking lot, the car struck a curb. Cunningham was still holding onto the rear of the vehicle at this time. The vehicle continued backwards and (struck) a second curb. It appears this is when Cunningham fell from the vehicle and became pinned underneath the car,” outlined Capt. Joseph Zurolo, an EPD spokesman.
With Cunningham pinned beneath the car, Mayo still attempted to drive the vehicle, which had been rendered immobile, according to Zurolo.
That’s when Mayo and her front-seat passenger, Donisha Jaquil Harris, 26, also of Wilmington, Del., jumped out of the vehicle and ran northward toward East Pulaski Highway, police reported.
“They fled the scene together without rendering help to Cunningham, who was still pinned under the car,” Zurolo said.
EPD officers, who had received a dispatch concerning an “unresponsive woman trapped under a car,” arrested Mayo and Harris moments later near the Royal Farms and Chili’s restaurant, which are across East Pulaski Highway from the Walmart, he reported.
A Singerly Volunteer Fire Co. crew attempted to “render aid to the victim while taking steps to remove the vehicle off of her,” Zurolo said, adding that Cunningham was pronounced dead at the scene.
Police said Cunningham, Mayo and Harris had entered the Walmart at about 12:30 p.m. Friday, some 45 minutes before the fatal incident, and then started filling their shopping cart with merchandise as they circulated through the store.
With their cart filled with “$1,193 worth of food, clothing and household goods,” the women started to walk out of the store without paying, police added.
“A security guard approached the women and asked them for a receipt, but they did not stop. They kept walking toward the car. Once at the vehicle, they started loading the items into the car,” Zurolo outlined.
At that point, the store security guard started taking photos of the women and the car, police said. When he attempted to take a picture of the rear license plate, Cunningham tried to thwart his effort while Mayo and Harris got into the car, police added.
“Ms. Cunningham attempted to block the license plate with her body. While she was holding onto the back of the car, (Mayo) backed up and ran her over,” Zurolo said.
Mayo continued to drive in reverse after a striking a nearby curb — with Cunningham holding onto the back of the vehicle, police said. After striking the second curb a short distance away, the car was rendered immobile with Cunningham trapped under it, police added.
EPD investigators detected a strong odor of alcohol while interacting with Mayo, according to Zurolo, who also noted that the detectives found open containers of alcohol inside the Impala.
Mayo is charged with criminally negligent vehicular manslaughter, negligent vehicular homicide while under the influence of alcohol, reckless endangerment, theft of more than $100 and less than $1,500 and conspiracy to commit theft, according to Cecil County District Court records.
Mayo remained in the Cecil County Detention Center without bond until Monday morning, when she posted a $25,000 bond to gain her pre-trial freedom after the original amount was lowered during a district court bail review hearing, court records show.
Harris, who is charged with theft of more than $100 and less than $1,500 and a mirroring conspiracy count, was released on personal recognizance shortly after her arrest, according to court records.