Harper, Evans, Wade & Netemeyer
Call Today available 24/7

Judge in DWI manslaughter case rescues self

The criminal case involving a Columbia woman who was convicted of manslaughter in a wrong-way crash on Interstate 70 in 2012 will receive a new judge after the judge who presided over the original trial voluntarily recused himself.

The woman was convicted of first-degree manslaughter in the death of another driver whom she struck. The Missouri State Highway Patrol produced evidence at trial that she had a 0.085 blood-alcohol content at the time of the crash.

Her defense attorneys were able to overturn the conviction based on improper jury instructions. Her attorneys argued that mishandling of the blood evidence by the Highway Patrol meant the alcohol measurements were potentially flawed.

They also highlighted that the woman's condition at the time of the accident was consistent with the use of a date-rape drug. Because she was seriously injured in the crash, her own memory of the events of that night was compromised.

The judge noted he recused himself to ensure that there was there was no appearance of partiality in the new trial. The woman's attorney had moved for recusal, but the judge voluntarily took himself off the case before considering the motion.

In a highly-charged case such as this, this makes sense. Judges are human and expecting a judge who was admonished by the appeals court to rehear this matter with absolute impartiality is expecting a great deal. A new judge will be named and they will also consider a change in venue, given the strong opinions that may have developed in Columbia over the matter.

At the time of the crash, she was found with no underwear or pants, with bruises on her legs that were consistent with rape and with mishandled blood that could have inflated the appearance of intoxication. All these elements could create sufficient doubt in the minds of the jury to undercut a guilty verdict. 

Source: Columbiatribune.com, "Judge recuses himself from manslaughter retrial," ALAN BURDZIAK, March 2, 2016

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information