Man Escapes Courthouse To Avoid 3 DUI Manslaughter Offenses
A Florida man bolted from the courthouse to avoid being convicted on three counts of DUI manslaughter that all stemmed from a single incident that occurred in 2019. To be sure, this is not the preferred way to beat a DUI manslaughter charge. According to authorities, he left the trial to go to lunch but never returned. In his absence, he was sentenced to 35 years which is only ten years shy of the statutory maximum of 15 years per death.
When it comes to DUI-related offenses, each death or injury counts as its own crime. So, in causing one accident that left three people dead, the defendant has availed himself to a potential 45-year sentence. He will serve 35 years of that sentence once he is apprehended by police.
Analyzing the elements of a nearly maximum sentence
It really did not help that the defendant absconded during his trial. That may have played an important role in pushing his sentence closer to the statutory maximum. The details of the case likewise did not help. The defendant was charged with killing a couple and their 13-year-old daughter. Further, the defendant attempted to evade law enforcement for months before he was eventually caught again, only to escape again.
It appears that the victims were attempting to make a left-hand turn when their vehicle was struck by the defendant’s Dodge Ram. The ensuing collision left all individuals in the smaller vehicle dead. The parents and their 13-year-old daughter died in the crash. Their 11-year-old son was injured in the crash.
Investigators found marijuana and empty cans of beer in the vehicle at the time of arrest. They also found paraphernalia that appears to indicate the defendant was a pot dealer. The defendant was going 84 mph at the time of the crash.
It is possible to defend a case like this, but you have to make the accident the victims’ fault. Ultimately, DUI manslaughter isn’t simply when someone dies while operating a vehicle drunk. The state has to be able to prove that you caused the accident as well.
In this case, the accident occurred at an intersection while the defendant was both drunk and speeding. It is likely that the alcohol caused the defendant to operate his vehicle recklessly. That would be enough to convict on a DUI manslaughter charge, but if this defendant was able to establish that the other vehicle cut him off at the intersection, he could not be convicted on the DUI manslaughter charge.
In this case, the defendant could not provide a reasonable defense to the charge of DUI manslaughter, and so he was convicted on that basis.
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