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Ex-NBA player Mookie Blaylock faces felony charge in fatal crash

By David Beasley

ATLANTA (Reuters) - Georgia prosecutors have upgraded criminal charges against former NBA player Mookie Blaylock in a head-on traffic crash last year that killed a 43-year-old mother of five, an official said on Tuesday.

Blaylock, 47, was driving a 2010 Cadillac Escalade last May in Clayton County, south of Atlanta, when he crossed over the center line into oncoming traffic and struck a minivan, injuring a passenger, Monica Murphy, 40, who died hours later after undergoing surgery at Atlanta Medical Center, police said.

Blaylock was critically injured in the accident but recovered.

He has been charged with first-degree vehicular homicide, a felony, upgraded from an initial misdemeanor charge, Clayton County Solicitor General Tasha Mosley told Reuters.

Prosecutors changed the charge after learning from another police agency that Blaylock had a medical condition and "knew he should not have been driving," Mosley said.

She did not name not name the condition, but police previously said they believed Blaylock suffered from a seizure disorder.

If convicted, Blaylock faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison. The misdemeanor charge carried a maximum one-year sentence.

Blaylock was also charged with driving with a suspended license and failure to maintain his lane, both misdemeanors, police said.

At the time of his arrest, Blaylock faced an arrest warrant for failure to appear in court on drug possession and drunken- driving charges in a nearby county, according to police.

Blaylock's attorney, Don Samuel, did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

Blaylock played in the National Basketball Association from 1989 to 2002. His ability to shut down opposing players twice earned him a place on the NBA All-Defensive First Team, and he was an NBA All-Star in 1994.

He played with the Atlanta Hawks from 1992 to 1999 and also spent time with the New Jersey Nets and Golden State Warriors.

(Editing by Kevin Gray; Editing by David Gregorio)

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