SNOW HILL — After delivering a 30-minute dissertation on how much he cared for his late elderly mother and how much money he spent on that care, a Pennsylvania man last Friday was sentenced to 25 years in prison for repeatedly running her over on a rural road in northern Worcester County last August.
Steven Frederick Molin, 58, of Darby, Pa., last Friday was sentenced to 25 years in prison after being found guilty by a Worcester County jury in March of second-degree murder in the death of his mother, Emily Belle Molin, 85. Circuit Court Judge Thomas C. Groton, who sentenced Molin to 25 years, just shy of the 30-maximum allowed for the conviction, called the case one of the most unusual he had ever seen in three decades on the bench.
Shortly before midnight last Aug. 31, the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office responded to a serious motor vehicle accident on Carey Rd. in Berlin. The victim, Emily Molin, was transported to PRMC in Salisbury where she died of injuries sustained from being run over by a motor vehicle.
From the beginning, Steven Molin did not deny running over his mother as many as three times, but claimed the incident was an accident, caused in part by a faulty passenger side door on the 2008 Chevy work truck damaged in a different accident earlier in the day. However, a Worcester County Sheriff’s Office accident reconstructionist, after reviewing the physical evidence and interviewing Molin, determined the victim had been run over three times despite ample opportunity for the suspect to avoid hitting her after the first collision.
Last week, Molin continued to assert the tragedy was just an “accident”, blurting out the word on several occasions during the sentencing hearing, even though it wasn’t his time to speak. From the beginning, Molin had been somewhat of an enigma, appearing at different times to be intelligent and lucent and at others to be dim-witted and vacant.
At different points during the sentencing hearing, Molin was described as a “man-child,” and appeared at times to be not entirely coherent. Even the judge questioned Molin’s intelligence.
“There is a piece missing,” he said. “Something is just not right. Because of that, I find this to be the most unusual case I have ever seen.”
Nonetheless, in March a Worcester jury found Molin guilty of second-degree murder in the death of his mother.
State’s Attorney Beau Oglesby said during the sentencing hearing last Friday, despite Molin’s continued assertions it was an accident, the jury had returned a second-degree murder conviction in the case and sought the maximum penalty allowed.
“What can’t be overlooked is the absolute finding by the jury that Mr. Molin intentionally killed his mother,” Oglesby said. “Mr. Molin is lying when he says his mother accidentally fell out of the vehicle, then he accidentally backed over her, accidentally pulled forward, and accidentally backed over her again.”
Oglesby closed his statement at sentencing with a powerful, yet simple account of the event.
“As disturbing as it is, sons do murder their mothers, and Steven Molin, in this case, murdered Emily Molin,” he said. “Emily Molin brought Steven Molin into this world, and Steven Molin took Emily Molin out of it.”
When it was his turn to speak during the sentencing hearing, Molin unleashed a 30-minute account of his care for his mother from the time she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s nine years ago right up to the fateful night last August. Molin went into detail about every expense he had made on care for his mother, from improvements at their shared home to the caregivers he paid to the meals he cooked for her.
He said things started unraveling when his mother was taken from him and placed in a nursing home, and the subsequent loss of the money he received to help pay for her care. On the day of the accident, Molin had taken his mother out of the nursing home and brought her to Berlin, ostensibly to visit her late husband’s gravesite.
“I want you to understand how much I cared for her,” he said. “We need to protect our parents and never put them in a waiting station. God only gives our parents one life, and we must not take that from them.”
After his only hint at remorse during the sentencing hearing, Molin immediately went back to claiming it was an accident.
“I feel horrible about the accident, but I feel good about how I took care of my mom,” he said. “She didn’t fall out. She was pulled out when the door swung open.”
After the incident, it came to light Molin and his mother were scheduled to appear in court in Pennsylvania the following day for a hearing on the transfer of two pieces of property they jointly owned. The property was going to be transferred and the money used to help pay for her care in the nursing home. Molin said last week the weight of the pending property transfer was on his mind on the night of the incident.
“The night of the accident, I was so stressed about maybe losing that property,” he said. “I was going to buy that place and put a caretaker for her in there. I also had a lot of guilt about my dad. He had a stroke and I never went to the hospital. I was so stressed and so tired that night.”
Groton later pointed out that for over 30 minutes Molin provided a laundry list of things he had done for his mother, but almost never expressed any sorrow about taking her life.
“I have no doubt in my mind of his love and affection for his mother,” he said. “But I find it very significant that he has spent almost no time expressing sorrow that his mom died. I see very little remorse.”
Groton said the evidence and testimony pointed out Molin showed little distress or sorrow even on the night of the incident on the side of Carey Rd.
“He keeps calling it an accident, but I think that’s a defense mechanism,” he said. “It’s completely absurd to think this was an accident. It’s obvious it didn’t happen that way. He backed over, pulled forward and backed over again.”
Groton added, “Here he has his mom lying in the road with multiple injuries and he’s very calm and talking to the police. I’m convinced it was an intentional act.”
Defense attorney Burton Anderson spoke after Molin’s lengthy discourse and tried to couch the event as a mercy killing of sorts. Anderson suggested the incident was a measure of last resort for a son trying to care for his downwardly spiraling mother and even evoked Dr. Jack Kevorkian to illustrate his point.
“I’m going to sum it up in one word: euthanasia,” he said. “Euthanasia is a medical term for taking another’s life to alleviate their pain. There are many contexts and cases where euthanasia in justified or unjustified. There are, in our society, cases of justified euthanasia. The defendant told everybody his mom’s condition was intolerable.”
Nonetheless, Groton was not buying the euthanasia defense.
“The fact Mrs. Molin was 85 and in poor health does not justify her being run over by a truck several times,” he said. “It’s clear it ended up being a tragedy because Mr. Molin ended up killing the person he loved the most. I’m not sure when Mr. Molin made the decision to kill his mother, but the jury decided he did intend to kill his mother that night.”