Globe and Mail

Was it sheer callousness or panic?


By JOHN SAUNDERS
Friday, March 8, 2002 – Print Edition, Page A1
The Globe and Mail

A 25-year-old Texas woman is accused of hitting a homeless man on a freeway, driving home with his head stuck through her windshield, then parking her car in her garage and leaving him there, pleading for help, until his death two or three days later.

Chanté Mallard, a nursing-home aide, was charged this week with murdering Gregory Biggs, 37, whose death had been a mystery since his body was found dumped in a Fort Worth park last fall.

Police allege that Mr. Biggs died of shock or loss of blood in her garage, draped on the hood of her car, his legs broken and his body partly in the passenger compartment.

"It's really hard to say whether it was callousness or she just panicked or whatever," Lieutenant David Burgess of the Fort Worth traffic-enforcement unit told The Globe and Mail yesterday.

"But the fact of the matter is we're still looking at a [charge of] murder because it appears he lived for a couple of days and had he gotten medical attention there's a good possibility he'd be alive today."

Ms. Mallard's lawyer denies that. He says the man was probably dead by the time his client reached home and her main mistake was to let her boyfriend help her hide the evidence and get rid of the body.

As Lt. Burgess described it, the case unfolded this way:

In October, Mr. Biggs's body was found in Cobb Park in southeastern Fort Worth not far from U.S. Highway 287. He appeared to be a hit-and-run victim but there were no witnesses.

Two weeks ago, police received a tip that a woman had been overheard at a party saying she had run down a man on U.S. 287. According to the informant, she admitted drinking and taking the drug ecstasy before the accident.

Officers searched Ms. Mallard's modest house and found the car in the garage with traces of blood and matted hair. The windshield, the back window and two of the seats had been removed. The seats were in the back yard, one burned.

Ms. Mallard admitted hitting Mr. Biggs. Armed with a medical examiner's report saying his injuries were not serious enough to have killed him quickly, police filed the murder charge on Wednesday.

"He went head-first through the passenger side of the windshield, face down," Lt. Burgess said. "This was about 2, 3 o'clock in the morning -- exactly what date we're really not sure at this time.

"She takes him, drives to her house with him still lodged in the windshield, pulls the car into the garage and then closes the garage doors. Apparently he's still alive for the next two or three days, because she has told detectives that she had gone out there to check on him, to say she was sorry, and he was asking for help."

Defence lawyer Michael Heiskell accused the police of embellishment. "She was traumatized and emotionally distraught when this happened. She made the wrong choice, the wrong decision. She sought comfort and aid from some friends who guided her in the wrong direction as far as what actions to take in the disposal of the body. That primarily was the boyfriend and another friend of hers who eventually took the body to this park where it was later found."

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