Surveillance Video Captures Fatal Birthday Party Attack

( – A 66-year-old Michigan woman has been charged with murder after she allegedly crashed her car into a building hosting a birthday party, killing two children and injuring at least a dozen other party-goers.

Marshella Chidester is accused of drunk driving after she reportedly plowed her vehicle into the Swan Boat Club, located in Berlin Township, on April 20th at about 3 pm. Surveillance video captured a dark-colored SUV speeding through a dirt parking lot, apparently headed straight for the club building. The crash left a vehicle-sized hole in the wall. Police on the scene told reporters the driver, now known to be Chidester, was drunk at the time.

The collision killed Alanah Phillips, 8, and Zayn Phillips, 5. The two were brother and sister. Their older brother Jayden and Mariah, their mother, were critically injured, and several other attendees suffered injuries.

Chidester was arraigned on the morning of April 23rd and charged with two counts of second-degree murder, four counts of driving while intoxicated and causing serious injury, and two counts of driving while intoxicated and causing death. If convicted, she could face life imprisonment. Members of the victims’ families were present at the arraignment and urged the judge to set a high bond for Chidester. They claimed that not only was Chidester drunk, but that she was taking a medication that she knew made driving inadvisable.

The judge, Christian Horkey, took the prosecution’s advice and set her bond at $1.5 million.  Chidester’s lawyer, Bill Colvos, argued unsuccessfully for a lower bond for his client. He noted that she had a clean driving record and no criminal record, which he said adds “credibility” to her defense. Colvos also claimed his client had only consumed one glass of wine at a bar before the crash, and that she has been experiencing seizures since the fall of 2023.

On the other side, prosecutors said Chidester’s blood-alcohol level was over the state’s limit for driving (if true, it is highly unlikely that only one glass of wine brought it to this level) and they could present no concrete evidence that the woman experienced a seizure.

Given that Chidester was “on some medication” that made drinking dangerous, but she admitted drinking anyway on the day of the crash, Chidester was a “danger to the community,” according to one prosecutor.

Chidester’s next court appearance will be on April 30th.

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