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Judge sentences Mars co-owner to fine, suspended license in fatal northern Va. crash

A co-owner of the Mars candy company and one of the world's richest women pleaded guilty Thursday to reckless driving in a fatal crash.

A Loudoun County judge ordered Jacqueline Badger Mars, 74, to pay a $2,500 fine and suspended her driver's license for six months.

Court papers say Mars told a witness she fell asleep just before the October crash in Aldie. The sheriff's office says Mars' Porsche SUV crossed the center line and hit a minivan carrying 86-year-old Irene Ellisor of Huntsville, Texas, who died at the scene. The minivan's driver, Ashley Blakeslee, was eight months pregnant. Her unborn child, Charlie, died.

General District Judge Deborah Welsh, who called the crash "horrible," could have sentenced Mars to up to a year in jail on the misdemeanor charge. But the victim's relatives asked the judge not to incarcerate her, saying they have forgiven Mars. Prosecutors did not seek jail time, but left it to the judge's discretion and asked the judge to take the family's wishes into account.

Mars apologized for the crash and said she will live with grief for the rest of her life.

Mars had a perfect driving record and tests showed no alcohol or drugs in her system.

Forbes Magazine ranks Mars as the world's seventh-richest woman. She is a co-owner of the privately held Mars Inc.

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