Mich. Grandmother Charged with Murder After Allegedly Killing 2 Children by Driving Drunk into Birthday Party

Marshella Chidester, 66, said in court the suspect was having seizures, which he claimed led to the crash

<p>Monroe County Sheriff

Monroe County Sheriff's Office via AP

Marshella Chidester

The allegedly intoxicated driver who careened into a Michigan boat club, crashing 25 feet inside and killing two young children and injuring 13 others, has been charged with murder, authorities said Tuesday.

Marshella Marie Chidester, 66, of Newport, has been charged with two counts of second-degree murder, two counts of operating while intoxicated causing death and four counts of operating while intoxicated causing serious injury, Monroe County Prosecuting Attorney Jeffrey A. Yorkey said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE.

On Saturday afternoon, Chidester allegedly sped through the parking lot of the Swan Boat Club in Berlin Township, where she used to be the commodore, and crashed through a building where a children’s birthday party was being held, Monroe County Sheriff Troy Goodnough said at a press conference later that day.

Killed in the crash were 8-year-old Lana Phillips and her 4-year -old brother, Zayn Phillips, according to a GoFundMe posted by their aunt, Diane Harrington.

They were pronounced dead at the scene, Goodnough said.

Seriously injured in the accident were the children’s mother, Mariah, and 11-year-old brother, Jayden, who were in critical condition after the accident, Harrington said in the GoFundMe.

Additional charges involve the serious injuries to a 14-year-old male and an 18-year-old female, Yorkey said in the release.

Chidester’s bond was set at $1.5 million.

Her attorney, Bill Colovos, argued that Chidester, who came to court with her arm in a sling, had seizures in her legs before that crash, NBC News reports. He said Chidester drives “like a little old lady” and has no criminal record, The Detroit News reports.

Related: Brother, 5, and Sister, 8, Dead After Intoxicated Driver Crashes Vehicle into Birthday Party

Since November, he said, she has had epileptic-type seizures in her legs that have led to paralysis, which she was treated for the day of the accident, the News reports.

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He said she only had a glass of wine and a bowl of chili at Verna’s Bar and Grill, the Detroit Free Press reports.

Colovos did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

But Yorkey said there was no evidence Chidester had a seizure the day of the crash.

An investigation that included a breathalyzer test allegedly determined that she was over the legal limit, Yorkie said, the News reports. He claimed she admitted to drinking, according to the News .

Investigators are awaiting tests measuring her blood alcohol levels.

During her arraignment, family members of the victims told the Monroe County judge how Chidester’s alleged actions have affected them.

“I had to be the one to tell my sister her babies were gone when they removed her ventilator yesterday,” Mariah’s sister, Raquel Smouthers, told the judge in between sobs, the Free Press reports.

“She said: ‘How am I supposed to live without my babies?’” 

The children’s grandmother, Kathy Phillips, alleged, “She chose to drink and those were my grandbabies,” the News reports. “She made the choice to get in that car and she chose to drink and drive and she took those babies from us.”

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