Articles Posted in OUI DUI Manslaughter

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As a Massachusetts OUI criminal defense attorney, I wrote in April about the death of a young woman from Salem, 19-year-old Julia Gauthier, in a drunk driving accident. Gauthier was riding home from a party in a car driven by her boyfriend, Christopher Maxson, when he ran two stop signs, was clipped by another driver and flipped his SUV. The resulting accident threw Gauthier from the vehicle’s sunroof, killing her at the scene. Maxson and two other passengers suffered only minor injuries. Maxson pleaded not guilty at the time to motor vehicle homicide while driving under the influence. But on Dec. 17, Maxson changed his plea to guilty and was sentenced to three to four years in state prison. The sentence was less than some of Gauthier’s family wanted, but more than the defense had hoped for.

The hearing was marked by statements from both families. Gauthier’s family read statements about her achievements and her promise in life; she was a college student when she died. Gauthier’s mother, Marie Gauthier, said she knew Maxson didn’t intend to kill her daughter and described the situation as a tragedy for both families. She said she hoped the experience would rehabilitate him. Maxson’s probation officer from a previous marijuana possession offense said he believed Maxson was open to rehabilitation and suffering from bipolar disorder. Maxson himself cried in court as his father read a letter he had written, saying he misses Gauthier and begs for forgiveness.

Read articles: Man given 3 to 4 years for fatal accident; Man gets prison for fatal crash

As a Massachusetts OUI criminal defense lawyer, I hope the probation officer is right. Maxson wrote in his letter that his feelings — missing Gauthier and knowing he’s responsible — are already “the ultimate punishment.” That doesn’t mean it’s inappropriate for the commonwealth of Massachusetts to also penalize him, but I suspect the judge took Maxson’s remorse into account when sentencing him. The maximum sentence for felony motor vehicle homicide is 15 years in prison, and Maxson’s sentence is significantly lower. However, he will likely also face a license suspension and other penalties for any OUI, not to mention the post-release consequences of a felony conviction. In fact, his accident has already been used by Salem-area high schools as an example of the terrible consequences of drinking and driving. These are very serious penalties for a young man just launching into adulthood — but I hope they help him and others avoid more fatal accidents caused by irresponsibility and mistakes.

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More than two years after a fatal accident, a Taunton man was acquitted of drunk driving but found guilty of vehicular homicide. According to a Nov. 2 article in the Taunton Daily Gazette, Edward Leonard, 36, faces up to 2 1/2 years in prison for his role in the accident that killed Jennifer Walker, 25, in March of 2007. Leonard was originally charged with operating under the influence of alcohol with serious bodily injury, OUI manslaughter and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. However, after a five-day trial, the jury found him guilty only of vehicular homicide by negligence. That dropped his potential maximum sentence from about 15 years to 2 1/2 years. He will be sentenced Dec. 10.

Prosecutors said Leonard had been drinking on the night of the accident, and was driving behind a friend toward another bar when the accident happened. They were on Route 44 when Leonard’s truck collided with a 1990 Oldsmobile driven by Richard Gould. The crash killed Walker, a passenger in Gould’s car, and flipped over Leonard’s truck. The prosecution and defense disagreed on whether Gould, Leonard or both veered into oncoming traffic, and whether Leonard was speeding. However, it was not disputed that Gould himself had a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.10. Police at the scene and a bystander said Leonard appeared intoxicated, and police found open beers in the truck. However, Leonard disobeyed police directions to remain on the scene, traveling with his friend to another friend’s home in Providence. He turned himself in the next day.

Read article: Taunton man guilty of vehicular homicide, acquitted of manslaughter in 2007 fatal crash

As a Massachusetts OUI defense attorney, I believe this story is a great example of why drivers charged with OUI shouldn’t assume they’re guilty just because law enforcement says they are. It’s not hard to imagine that Leonard might have felt hopeless at the beginning of his case. Not only did a young woman lose her life, but police accused Leonard of drinking, speeding and swerving into oncoming traffic, charges that could have put him in prison for more than a decade. Those accusations might seem pretty damning — but as this case shows, more information can make a big difference in the outcome of a case. Leonard’s Massachusetts drunk driving defense lawyer successfully challenged the police accident reconstruction with an expert of their own. And the lack of firm evidence that Leonard was drunk at the time was apparently enough to raise reasonable doubts — the standard for a criminal conviction — in the minds of the jurors. Cases like this show why it’s so important to speak with an attorney before pleading guilty in any OUI case.

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Cleveland Brown wide receiver Donte Stallworth just hit the mother load of of plea deals by getting a thirty day jail sentence after being charged with DUI Manslaughter. It was alleged that on March 14, 2009 Mario Reyes was running across the street to catch a bus when he was struck and killed by a car being driven by Stallworth. According to reports the sentence was nine years and eleven months shorter than the average sentence in Florida for the same crime. Apparently Stallworth’s cooperation with authorities after the accident and an undisclosed settlement agreement with the victim’s family factored heavily into this decision. Stallworth apologized to the victim’s family at his sentencing at which he also received a lifetime loss of license. After his release from custody Stallworth will be on house arrest for two years and he will be on probation for eight years. He was ordered to pay fines of ten thousand dollars and he will have to perform one thousand hours of community service.

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Donte Stallworth Gets Short Sentence In Plea Deal For OUI Manslaughter Charges

There are very few circumstances in which you would see a deal like this in Massachusetts. OUI Manslaughter is a relatively new crime in Massachusetts enacted a few years ago under Melanie’s Law. OUI Manslaughter in Massachusetts carries a minimum mandatory five year state prison sentence. Massachusetts Laws do provide for work release programs for people convicted under this statute however this cannot happen without the recommendation of the prison superintendent and under the supervision of an officer of the prison in which the defendant is incarcerated. See Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 265 Section 13 1/2. Motor Vehicle Homicide OUI violations can in some circumstances provide for a lighter sentence however rarely if ever will the sentence of incarceration be thirty days. The only time when this might happen is when the district attorney’s case in tenuous. For example, in this case if it could reasonably be argued that Reyes actions were the actual cause of the accident and the prosecution’s case was weakened due to that fact you might see a sentence imposed that undercuts the average for these cases. Again, thirty days is not likely. There is no doubt that Stallworth’s lawyer did a great job for him.

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Last week police in West Tisbury, Massachusetts responded to a motor vehicle crash scene after receiving information that there was an accident with serious injuries. They arrived to find Jena Pothier pinned to the front passenger seat wearing a seatbelt. The suspected driver, Kelly McCarron was found lying in the road having been ejected from the car. Police stated that speed and alcohol were factors in the crash. Witnesses to the crash said that McCarron was operating at a high rate of speed and attempting to pass a car in front of her despite a car in the oncoming lane. Pothier had just completed her first year of college. McCarron had just graduated from Martha’s Vineyard High School. McCarron has been charged with several motor vehicle infractions and crimes, the most serious being DUI, Negligent Operation of a Motor Vehicle, Motor Vehicle Homicide OUI and OUI with Serious Bodily Injury. Police have not ruled other charges out of the realm of possibility.

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Motor Vehicle Homicide, OUI Charges For Cape Cod Woman Who Killed Friend In Accident

Anytime there is a motor vehicle accident involving alcohol in Massachusetts and someone is killed you can bet that serious criminal charges will issue. In cases such as this one there are two important aspects to the district attorney’s investigation that will dictate how this case is prosecuted. The first is the manner of operation of the vehicle being driven by the defendant. The more egregious this activity the more severe the charges. Police in this case have left open the possibility of additional charges against McCarron. One of these could be OUI Manslaughter. That crime would require a minimum mandatory five year state prison sentence. The statute authorizes a twenty year state prison sentence. The second component guiding how this case will be charged is the defendant’s blood alcohol level at the time of operation. Whenever someone suspected of drunk driving is hospitalized as a result of injuries medical personnel will take a blood test. A toxicology screen will be performed determining the level of alcohol in the person’s system at the time of the test. This case be challenged depending on the time and manner of testing. This is discussed some of my in other blog posts dealing with the proper method of blood testing for the presence of alcohol and extrapolation of the reading. If the alcohol level was high and the manner of operation was extreme you might see additional charges issue.

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UPI reported that Courtney Frances Stewart, the twenty year old who was driving Los Angeles Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart had a blood alcohol level of .06 the night she, Adenhart and another individual were killed in a DUI related accident. These results were determined by the coroner who examined the bodies of the decedents and conducted toxicology tests. While some might think the reading is low, California Vehicle Code § 23136 makes it a crime for anyone who is under the age of twenty one to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol level of .01 or more. Andrew Thomas Gallo, who had a 2006 DUI conviction has been charged with murder for the deaths of the three back on April 9th of this year.

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Woman Driving Angels Pitcher May Have Been DUI Herself

There is no doubt that if this case goes to trial Gallo’s defense attorney will try to use the issue of Stewart’s intoxication as part of his defense. The focus of the trial would then be not whether Gallo was impaired at the time of the accident. Rather, the defense will try to show that Stewart’s actions were the cause of the accident and the her alcohol ingestion impaired her ability to operate in a safe manner. All of this of course assumes that the physical evidence at the scene and any eyewitness observations supports this defense. It is important to keep in mind that someone’s blood alcohol level at the time of death does not necessarily reflect accurately that person’s blood alcohol at the time of operation. Factors that defense lawyers always like to know is how many drinks the person had, over what time period were the drinks ingested, how much food did the person eat that day, the person’s height and weight and whether proper procedures were followed when taking the blood sample. Expect to see the defense engage a toxicologist and an accident reconstructionist to assist in trial preparations.

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Tyrone Fuller is twenty one years old living in Hayward, California. He is getting arraigned today on charges of murder stemming from a March 21, 2009 crash in which he killed another man. At the time Fuller was under the influence of alcohol and marijuana. It was reported that at 6:00 a.m. Fuller drove his sport utility vehicle through a red light striking a car driven by Roger Guess. Fuller left the scene but later filed a false police report claiming that his car had been stolen. The charges are in the Alameda County Superior Court.

DUI Murder Charges Filed Against California Man

In Massachusetts you cannot be charged with murder for a motor vehicle death involving impairment due to either alcohol or drugs. You can however be charged with motor vehicle homicide or manslaughter based on OUI. Motor vehicle homicide charges carry a maximum fifteen years in state prison. The crime can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. OUI manslaughter in Massachusetts originated with Melanie’s Law. It is a felony charge that carries a minimum mandatory five year state prison sentence and as much as twenty years. There is also a lifetime loss of license associated with this crime.

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Twenty six year old Gilberto Vega was arraigned yesterday in the Lawrence District Court. The charges are manslaughter, leaving the scene of an accident with personal injury, motor vehicle homicide and OUI. The Lawrence Eagle Tribune reports that Vega and his girlfriend had an argument after which she, Betzaida Laureano asked him to leave. When he left Vega drove his car at Laureano who was standing on the sidewalk with her children. Vega drove on the sidewalk towards Laureano and ended up hitting her daughter Evelize Curet. Curet was taken to Lawrence General Hospital where she was pronounced dead.

DUI And Manslaughter Charges For Massachusetts Man Who Killed Girlfriend’s Daughter

There is no doubt that this case will be presented to a grand jury and indicted. Vega will have to defend against these charges in the Essex County Superior Court in Salem, Massachusetts. The OUI charges are the least of his worries. Vega’s biggest problems are the manslaughter and motor vehicle homicide OUI charges. Manslaughter in Massachusetts carries a maximum twenty year state prison sentence. Motor vehicle homicide in Massachusetts carries a fifteen year maximum if the felony version of this offense is charged. Given the tragic nature of this case it would not surprise me to see the district attorney look for at least a fifteen year sentence if Vega gets convicted.

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On March 14, 2009 Dante Stallworth, a Cleveland Browns wide receiver accidentally ran over and killed a pedestrian in Miami. He was driving a Bentley that was heavily damaged from the impact. Stallworth cooperated with the police investigation, took field sobriety tests and provided blood work that was sent to a lab for examination. The result of the test was a .126, more than one and one half the legal limit in Florida. Yesterday, Stallworth was charged with DUI and DUI manslaughter. Reports place Stallworth drinking at a club shortly before the accident. A videotape shows Stallworth taking a field sobriety test known as the Horizonatal Gaze Nystagmus test. Florida law has a fifteen year maximum prison sentence for a conviction of DUI manslaughter.

Read Article: Dante Stallworth Charged With DUI Manslaughter

See Videotape: Stallworth Taped Performing HGN Test

In Massachusetts OUI Manslaughter is a crime under Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 265 Section 13 1/2. This is part of Melanie’s Law, Massachusetts’ newest and perhaps most strict version of Massachusetts OUI laws. The Massachusetts Manslaughter has a five year mandatory prison sentence and authorizes incarceration for up to twenty years.

Most likely, the issue facing Stallworth is not whether or not he was impaired when he was driving but whether his actions amount to DUI manslaughter under Florida law. This is a matter of fact that is determined by a judge or a jury.

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