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Frightening Vehicular Homicide Cases Rev 2

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Presentation on the risks of having any alcohol and driving a vehicle, because Georgia severely punishes drivers involved in crashes resulting in death or serious injury.

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Frightening Vehicular Homicide Cases Rev 2

  1. 2. # 1: Basic Factual Background of Case <ul><li>Δ , Ga Tech Grad; 2 nd DUI arrest in 5 years, but this time killed pedestrian who was crossing street in Buckhead bar district </li></ul><ul><li>Pedestrian was 0.319 blood alcohol; birthday </li></ul><ul><li>Pedestrian walked directly off curb mid-block in a driving rainstorm, dark clothing, dark hat </li></ul><ul><li>Neither Δ nor passenger saw man until windshield cracked (circular hole) </li></ul><ul><li>Δ thought hit by brick, kept driving, Hit & Run </li></ul>
  2. 3. The Value of Getting the Case Early <ul><li>Started at City Court of Atlanta – Jury Trial Court for Misdemeanors – Statutory Speedy Trial Demand </li></ul><ul><li>After Prosecutor saw file, learned of man’s death, bound over to Fulton Superior Court </li></ul><ul><li>Felony Charges Brought, Bond set at $40,000 </li></ul><ul><li>When Trial Started, I asserted Motion for Discharge & Acquittal </li></ul><ul><li>Motion Denied; Immediate Direct Appeal </li></ul>
  3. 4. Outcome – Partial Win, then Total <ul><li>Court of Appeals struck down all but 1 felony charge, which DA had alleged as VH by combination of DUI (0.154) and Hit & Run </li></ul><ul><li>Filed Motion alleging Collateral Estoppel, arguing that BOTH DUI AND Hit & Run were “acquitted”; therefore, no FELONY can be “supported by” charges that acquittal granted </li></ul><ul><li>Client walked away from all charges </li></ul>
  4. 5. #2: VH and Vehicular Feticide w/ 0.31 <ul><li>Did not get case until 18 months after incident happened; referred by original attorney </li></ul><ul><li>Tried to file NEW motions, but other attorney had already filed (and lost) certain motions – Judge denied a “second round” of motions </li></ul><ul><li>All physical evidence had been destroyed or lost, including Δ blood and the damaged F-250 pickup truck – could not have experts test it </li></ul>
  5. 6. Blood Should Have Been Excluded <ul><li>Factually, 9 witnesses starting at 9 AM until 10 minutes before wreck (just before 6 PM) </li></ul><ul><li>Registered Nurse: “If that is how the vials were marked, not the blood I drew” – ALWAYS marked the same for my 24 years (0.31) </li></ul><ul><li>Change of Venue NOT Granted, Small Community, Top News Story of Year </li></ul><ul><li>Judge even met with Attorneys: “I’m sorry” </li></ul>
  6. 7. “ Victory?” – Saved 6 Years of Prison <ul><li>Best Offer to original attorney: 30 serve 10 </li></ul><ul><li>Judge (after our 2 week trial): 30 serve 4 </li></ul><ul><li>This type offense, offender must serve 90% or more of the actual sentence </li></ul><ul><li>Appeal did not overturn the conviction, despite all the errors – 248 Ga.App. 551 </li></ul><ul><li>Judge was vilified in local weekly newspaper, but the people complaining did not see trial </li></ul>
  7. 8. #3: Pedestrian Killed – SUV Kept Going <ul><li>Male former UGA student, youngest of 8 children, age 23 at time of incident </li></ul><ul><li>Was in Atlanta, watching GA-FLA game on TV with friends – supposed to STAY with friend </li></ul><ul><li>Later drove, for some unexplained reason, into downtown Atlanta, opposite home path </li></ul><ul><li>African-American female walking across downtown street, run over by SUV </li></ul>
  8. 9. Cops Got “911” Calls & Swarmed Area <ul><li>SUV was stopped about 20 minutes later, going in DIFFERENT direction and +/- 2 miles away from Death Scene </li></ul><ul><li>“ BOLO” (be-on-the-lookout) call was incorrect in three SIGNIFICANT ways and NO TAG INFO </li></ul><ul><li>Officer: would have stopped ANY similar SUV </li></ul><ul><li>Client had 0.23 Blood from GBI Report – due to high reading, GBI never checked for any drugs (marijuana was in blood sample) </li></ul>
  9. 10. The Value of a Motion to Suppress <ul><li>Motion alleged violation of Fourth Amendment – Illegal Search and Seizure </li></ul><ul><li>In this motion, burden is on the Prosecution </li></ul><ul><li>Issues are heard pre-trial, and often done weeks or months before jurors are ever summoned to assembly for selection </li></ul><ul><li>1994 Ga Supreme Ct case – Vansant v. State </li></ul><ul><li>Search declared illegal; evidence suppressed </li></ul>
  10. 11. #4: Best Friend Killed in Rollover <ul><li>30-year old car sales person, from Florida </li></ul><ul><li>Passenger also in car sales; had been friend 20 years; both had move from FL to ATL area </li></ul><ul><li>Had gone to friend’s house in Forsyth County for “housewarming” party – never been there before; unfamiliar with roadways </li></ul><ul><li>Δ driving Hertz Rental car he had rented in FL </li></ul><ul><li>Rural roadway, just before 4 AM </li></ul>
  11. 12. Facts of Case are Too Familiar <ul><li>First attorneys had case for over 2 full years </li></ul><ul><li>First attorneys had done cursory investigation, filed one targeted motion attacked one issue </li></ul><ul><li>First attorneys suggested Δ accept DA’s 15 year sentence offer, with first 7 in State prison </li></ul><ul><li>In the first 8 court appearances, attorneys: 1 </li></ul><ul><li>Case was already SET FOR TRIAL when Δ first came to see me to discuss his dissatisfaction </li></ul>
  12. 13. Simultaneous Calls: “911” and from Δ <ul><li>Nearby female resident hears tremendous crash of vehicle, multiple points of contact </li></ul><ul><li>Δ explanation to “911”: “Deer Crossing Road” </li></ul><ul><li>Good comes in with the Bad: Admissions against Interest – Will it sway the Jury? </li></ul><ul><li>Death/serious injury “team” was deficient </li></ul><ul><li>Timeline Did Not Match Up , but Little Time to Reconstruct the REAL Timeline </li></ul>
  13. 14. Key Facts of Case <ul><li>DA never called any witness from the party </li></ul><ul><li>Defendant never testified </li></ul><ul><li>Blood test (0.142) should NOT have been in evidence, but judge REFUSED to allow me to revisit motions that first attorneys missed </li></ul><ul><li>1 st Responder – County Fireman (EMT) – “No smell of alcohol” – 1 st Cop - “I smelled it” </li></ul><ul><li>Passenger – No Seat Belt, Δ was buckled in </li></ul>
  14. 15. The Most Interesting Witness in Case <ul><li>Retired Truck Driver, who lived here in Forsyth County whole life ; over 70 years old </li></ul><ul><li>Not home the night of accident; mule contest </li></ul><ul><li>Our investigator, Betty, located him via a Door-to-Door Investigation of all homes in vicinity </li></ul><ul><li>Stated that this was the 5 th person to die in this curve ; very familiar with each case </li></ul><ul><li>Confirmed Deer Population “Terrible”; Growth </li></ul><ul><li>County Had Bought His Land to Straighten Curve </li></ul>
  15. 16. 911 Call
  16. 17. Verdict: Split Decision on GA-FL Day <ul><li>VH by DUI – NOT VH – Test ≥0.08 - GUILTY </li></ul><ul><li>VH by reckless – GUILTY </li></ul><ul><li>DUI – GUILTY Per Se DUI (by ≥0.08) (Dir. Ver.) </li></ul><ul><li>Reckless – NOT </li></ul><ul><li>Driving while suspended - GUILTY </li></ul><ul><li>Sentencing – 15, to serve 5 in State Prison </li></ul><ul><li>Other Misdemeanors, “concurrent” (not stacked on end of sentence for FELONY) </li></ul>
  17. 18. Since Trial Date- What has Occurred <ul><li>Δ is jailed, being shifted from place to place </li></ul><ul><li>Motion in Arrest of Judgment – DENIED </li></ul><ul><li>Motion for Bond During Appeal - DENIED </li></ul><ul><li>Motion for New Trial – Being Filed Today </li></ul><ul><li>If Δ had entered Guilty Plea to DA’s offer of 15, serve 7, no real chance to appeal this </li></ul><ul><li>If Client wins Appeal, can’t get back the time her served; if loses, saves 2 years in prison </li></ul>
  18. 19. TAKEAWAYS <ul><li>Vehicular Felony is an UNINTENTIONAL Crime </li></ul><ul><li>Situation can Change from Fun to Prison in an INSTANT – What is in YOUR Bloodstream? </li></ul><ul><li>Time is of the ESSENCE after Serious Accident </li></ul><ul><li>Choose Attorney in Same Manner You Would Choose a Surgeon if Diagnosed with Malignant Tumor – Only 1 Shot at Removing the Tumor </li></ul><ul><li>Explore Every Possible Fact, Claim & “Angle” </li></ul>
  19. 20. The Value of Seatbelts

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