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April 24, 2015

Woman convicted in hit-and-run death: It ‘shook me to my core’

Kristine Guerra, kristine.guerra@indystar.com 5:20 p.m. EDT April 24, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-11-03 at 9.29.46 PMMorgan Mannix stared straight at the mother as she spoke about her son in court, trying to hold back tears as she listened.

Mannix never knew Carla Trabert’s son, Alex. But she said she never stopped thinking of him since their paths crossed that fateful day in November 2012.

Mannix was driving on a Northeastside street early in the morning when she struck and killed Alex Trabert. She left the scene of the accident, not knowing that she had hit someone.

The 26-year-old Indianapolis native was sentenced Friday morning to six years, three of which she will spend in the Department of Correction and one year of which she will serve through home detention. Before Marion Superior Court Judge Kurt Eisgruber handed down the sentence, a sobbing Mannix, dressed in a yellow jail uniform, read a statement in front of two families — hers and Alex’s — whose lives will never be the same.

“News that I had taken a life shook me to my core. Finding out he was my age destroyed me,” Mannix said, crying and pausing for a few seconds. “Not a day has passed that I never thought about Alex.”

Mannix and Trabert were both 23 years old when the accident happened. Both lacked criminal histories. Mannix was a young professional with a budding career in the health-care industry. Trabert was a recovering drug addict intent on turning his life around. He had moved to Indianapolis to attend a program at the Fairbanks Recovery Center.

Trabert’s journey toward recovery was cut short around 2:30 a.m. on Nov. 24, 2012. Police said Mannix was driving south in the 7400 block of North Shadeland Avenue, when she drifted off the road and struck Trabert, who was on foot. Mannix stopped and looked around for a few seconds, but she didn’t see anyone and left, according to court records.

A passer-by found Trabert a few hours later, lying on his back on a grassy area just west of Shadeland Avenue, near 75th Street. He died of multiple blunt force trauma to the head, according to the Marion County coroner’s office.

Mannix later turned herself in. She told police she had drunk a few beers at a friend’s house the night before the crash. She stopped drinking around 1 a.m. and later decided to drive home, court records say.

A jury earlier this month found Mannix guilty of failure to stop at an accident causing death and causing death while operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, both of which are Class C felonies.

During the sentencing hearing, Trabert’s family spoke of the young man they’ve been missing for the past two and a half years.

“Alex was not supposed to die,” his brother, Eric Trabert, said in a statement read in court. “He’s the most genuine person I’ve ever met.”

Carla Trabert said her son was a people pleaser, who used to tease her and make everyone around him laugh.

“Alex wasn’t a saint. He had demons he fought for many years, but he wanted to straighten his life,” she said. “We’re the lucky ones for having to know Alex in the short time he was with us.”

Mannix’s friends and family spoke of her character and her willingness to bring closure to the Trabert family. They also offered their condolences. Some asked Eisgruber to not send Mannix to prison, citing her lack of criminal history and excellence at a job that still remains open for her. A graduate of Indiana University, Mannix was working as a business analyst for a global health-care information technology company based in Kansas City, Mo. when the crash happened.

Dana Mannix said her daughter is “remorseful beyond anything you can imagine.”

“The accident will alter the course of both of our families forever. Many times we were consumed with grief over what happened to Alex,” Dana Mannix told the Trabert family. “Morgan will never get over what happened to Alex.”

While taking into consideration the statements by Mannix’s family, Eisgruber also acknowledged that a life was lost because of a series of bad decisions.

“You will have a career. You will have opportunities,” Eisgruber told Mannix. “And that’s something Alex won’t have.”

Mannix will be on probation for one year after she serves her sentence. Eisgruber also suspended her driver’s license for two years and ordered her to do 100 hours of community service.

She will share her story at schools and teach children about the dangers of drunken driving. It’s what Carla Trabert wanted her to do.

Call Star reporter Kristine Guerra at (317) 444-6209. Follow her on Twitter:

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