Cases of Vehicular Homicide and Vehicular Assault often involve testimony regarding accident investigation and accident reconstruction. Accident investigation is the collection of evidence at the crash site, and this activity is typically not considered the domain of expert testimony. Accident reconstruction is the use of scientific methods to determine the cause of the accident, so testimony on this subject is ordinarily considered expert testimony. A recent Ohio case illustrates the expert nature of accident reconstruction testimony.
One act can result in both a criminal case and a civil case. A well-known example of this principle is the O.J. Simpson cases. Simpson was found Not Guilty of murder in the criminal case, but he was found liable for wrongful death in the civil case and ordered to pay $8.5 million to the Goldman family. A recent case involving a fatal wreck demonstrates how this principle applies to Ohio cases involving Vehicular Homicide and Vehicular Assault.
Being charged with Vehicular Homicide or Vehicular Assault is stressful. Individuals in that situation often experience feelings of guilt and fear. For those individuals, it would be helpful to have a solid understanding of the offense they are charged with, the penalties they are facing, and the court process ahead of them. It would also be beneficial for them to learn about the evidence used in court and possible defense strategies. Two new books contain this useful information: the Ohio Vehicular Homicide Guide and the Ohio Vehicular Assault Guide.
A few days before the Kansas City Chiefs were to play in the Super Bowl, assistant coach Britt Reid (son of head coach Andy Reid) was involved in a three-car accident which left a five-year-old in critical condition. Earlier this month, Britt Reid was charged with the felony offense of ‘DWI-Serious Physical Injury’. While this incident occurred in Missouri, the investigation which led to the charge is essentially the same as a Vehicular Assault investigation in Ohio.
Steven Anderson was drunk when he passed out on a rural highway. He was wearing dark clothing and went to sleep on the dark road around 1:00 am. There were no street lights in the area, and he was lying where there is a bend in the road. Darryl Saunders was drunk when he came driving around that bend. When he finally saw Anderson lying in the road, Saunders swerved to avoid him, but it was too late. He ran over Anderson, and Anderson died. Saunders’ blood alcohol concentration was tested at .150. Is Saunders criminally responsible for killing Anderson?
Ohio has several variations of what is commonly known as vehicular homicide. Generally, vehicular homicide is causing the death of another person while operating a vehicle. In the Ohio Revised Code, there are actually three separate offenses: (1) Aggravated Vehicular Homicide; (2) Vehicular Homicide; and (3) Vehicular Manslaughter. The offenses defined in the Ohio Revised Code are distinguished by the driver’s conduct (actus reus) and the driver’s state of mind (mens rea). The particular offense with which a defendant is convicted makes a substantial difference in the sentence imposed by the court.
During a D.U.I. /O.V.I. trial, jurors are instructed to limit their deliberations to the evidence presented in court. In fact, they are specifically instructed not to investigate or conduct their own experiments. In the recent high-profile trial of John Goodman, a juror ignored that instruction and conducted an experiment regarding the effects of drinking vodka.
In Miami, there’s nothing strange or tragic about a police officer riding down the beach on an ATV. What makes this incident strange is the on-duty officer is taking a female passenger on a joyride while he’s on duty. What makes this incident tragic is the officer plows into two pedestrians and severely injures both.
The Chicago Tribune reported that the driver of a tour bus in Chicago struck and killed a pedestrian, and a blood test following the accident was positive for cocaine. The bus driver is now being held without bail and likely facing charges of D.U.I. and Aggravated Vehicular Homicide. This tragic incident highlights the issues of driving under the influence of drugs, vehicular homicide, and commercial drivers.