Judge orders woman accused in deadly road rage assault after Springfield crash to stand trial

Published: Oct. 28, 2021 at 3:01 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 28, 2021 at 9:58 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - A judge set a trial date for a woman accused of causing a vehicle crash, then killing her with her car in Springfield in November of 2018.

The trial for Elizabeth McKeown will begin on June 6, 2022.

Investigators say McKeown rear-ended Barbara Foster in traffic for moving too slow near Sunshine and Campbell. Investigators say McKeown then lured Foster out of her car and ran her over. An eyewitness recorded video immediately after the incident. Several witnesses also stopped McKeown from leaving the scene.

The judge ordered a series of physical and mental tests since McKeown’s arrest. McKeown pleaded not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect, excluding responsibility, to charges of first-degree murder. A judge has ordered her to be held in the Greene County Jail since the crash.

Thursday’s announcement that McKeown would stand trial came as a surprise to family members of Barbara Foster.

“I was expecting it to be over,” Foster’s daughter Amber Sahagun said. “We were told it was possible they were going to plea her out today and that this was going to be the end of it.”

After a series of physical and mental tests, Barbara Foster’s family said they feared McKeown would accept a plea deal by reason of mental illness. She has already pleaded not guilty by reason of mental illness. Just moments before she entered the court room, Foster’s family found out that she would not be taking the NGRI plea deal.

”[The prosecutor] said they weren’t going to accept the plea at this time and they were going to set it for trial,” Foster’s brother Bob Ayers described. “That was like a big relief because that was not really what we were expecting to happen.”

After three years, the family said they had almost lost faith in the justice system. Thursday’s announcement gave them a glimmer of hope.

”It’s relief,” Sahagun said. “It feels like there is a possibility for justice. There’s a chance that it’ll have some kind of resolution with an answer. It’ll make sense a little bit.”

Foster’s daughter said that relief still will not bring her mother back.

”She did everything she could for me,” Sahagun said. “Everything. She helped me get my life back on track. She’s literally my inspiration for everything that I do today. She’s literally the glue that holds me together. I know she is. We go to the victim’s memorial garden at Phelps Grove Park all the time to go visit her and just go hang out with her and go talk to her. It’s the only way to keep her alive still to us.”

Sahagun said the weight of her mother’s loss still sticks with her.

”There are certain places in the city I can’t go to,” she said. “I can’t drive past Sunshine and Campbell. I avoid that intersection like the plague because that’s her.”

Foster’s brother also feels a slight sense of relief after Thursday’s announcement, but he said he knows anything could still be possible. He also said he feels many laws and parts of the justice system need to be fixed. Ayers said he was worried McKeown would take the insanity plea, something he said he does not feel is fair or just.

“That’s where my frustration comes along,” he said. “How could you possibly commit something so atrocious and almost get away with it? That’s how I was viewing it. But we’ll see where it goes from here.”

Ayers said he is just ready for it to all be over.

”We can move on one way or another,” he said. “However we have to, we’ll adjust. We’re a strong bunch. But I just want this to be done. But now we have a trial date. Hopefully we’ll get a little justice out of it.”

Foster worked as an optician at Eyeglass World and was helping raise her three grandkids. She later died from her injuries at the hospital.

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