Involuntary Manslaughter for driver who killed pedestrian in Mt. Lebanon

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salty
Participant
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It’s still a relative slap on the wrist, but at least there’s some responsibility for the act implied and it’s more than a $500 fine.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11267/1177364-100.stm?cmpid=news.xml


quizbot
Participant
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2.5 – 5 yrs for robbing 2 kids of their Mom’s existence for the rest of their lives. Nice work by the defense.


stefb
Participant
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What a bunch of bullshit


sloaps
Participant
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the sad irony is that if the jury truly believed that smoking marijuana the night before caused him to drive wrecklessly, then he would have been handed vehicular homicide.

I wonder if they’ll let him attend college like the flip-flop kid?


AtLeastMyKidsLoveMe
Participant
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I’m confused. This kid was charged and found guilty of something, and apparently is going to be sentenced to 2.5-5 years in prison. I agree, sucky trade-off relative to the impact on the victim’s family.

However, any correlation to Flip Flop Boy is misplaced. FFB was never even brought up on charges. So to say “I wonder if they’ll let him attend college like the flip-flop kid?” is a little misplaced.

IMHO, it is good this kid was found guilty of something, I agree he got off easy, but then again he is going to prison.


rsprake
Participant
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the sad irony is that if the jury truly believed that smoking marijuana the night before caused him to drive wrecklessly, then he would have been handed vehicular homicide.

It really is. If he didn’t get high the night before would they just say it was an accident?


rsprake
Participant
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The defense contends that while Mr. Cope had smoked marijuana, he was not impaired at the time of the crash. Mr. Beemer said that Mr. Cope stopped at the stop sign but did not see the victim.

As if that makes it ok.


AtLeastMyKidsLoveMe
Participant
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Forgive the hockey analogy here, but in hockey players are responsible for what the other end of their stick comes into contact with. Ie.: if they are skating along and the far end of their stick happens to whack an opposing player in the head, well, that’s high-sticking, and you go to the penalty box.

However, it occurs to me the application of our laws are tilted to let people off the hook.

It should be like hockey. We should be held accountable for what our vehicles do while we are driving them. Regardless of our intention. Wouldn’t that make all vehicle operators a LOT more careful?

And wouldn’t we all be safer. And isn’t THAT the point?


sloaps
Participant
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Exactly. Fully sober, fully responsible.


Lou M.
Participant
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This is from another forum where the husband is a member:

“In our fair commonwealth, one is guilty of vehicular homicide if one is guilty of involuntary manslaughter occurring during a violation of the traffic code. My wife’s killer was convicted by a jury of involuntary manslaughter (a misdemeanor) and summarily convicted by a judge of reckless driving, failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk and failing to stop at a stop sign. Yet despite both elements of vehicular homicide being met, a jury found him not guilty.

In our fair commonwealth, you can run over and kill a mother of three pushing a stroller at 12:15 PM, an officer can smell marijuana emanating from your car while you’re talking to your lawyer on the phone, you can fail a field sobriety test, an officer can find a one-hitter with residue in your car, a blood test conducted at 1:30 PM detects the psychoactive form of THC in your blood, a toxicologist with 31 years experience can determine that you smoked marijuana between 8:15 AM and 1 PM, you can fail a second field sobriety test conducted by one of the commonwealth’s most senior Drug Recognition Expert conducted at 2:30, and a jury will find you not guilty of driving under the influence.”

It all sucks. Guy should be incarcerated for life.


AtLeastMyKidsLoveMe
Participant
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Wow. If that’s not enough for the full conviction, then there IS NO WAY to get the full conviction.


ajbooth
Participant
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It does suck. I live less than a mile from that intersection, and I either bike or drive through it every day. There is absolutely no way that kid stopped at the stop sign, looked, and did not see the woman and the stroller. This kid should be spending the rest of his life in jail.

That being said, I am somewhat happy that the defense did not try to blame the victims. And I’m also happy with the overhaul of the signage and road markings at the intersection. Prior to June of last year, there was no painted crosswalk, no painted stop line, and a standard size stop sign. Now there is a very bright and wide crosswalk, a very large stop line, a much bigger stop sign, and two signs before the intersection advising motorists to slow down. It is beyond shameful that it took the death of an innocent woman to make all of that happen.


salty
Participant
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He wasn’t sentenced to anything yet and 2.5-5 is the max. There is no guarantee he will spend a day in prison.

I read some of the intermediate articles and they gave me a sick feeling, I know it is the defense attorney’s job to explore any possible excuse but it is disgusting that the people on the jury actually fall for that crap. One argument was the drug test was invalid because the kid admitted to getting stoned 3-4 times a day so he naturally had elevated THC levels. Yet we are suposed to believe he took the day off from toking despite evidence in the car and failing a sobriety test – apparently the fine people of the jury fell for that.

I fully agree that shouldn’t even matter – the fact that he ran over a woman in broad daylight is the important part, I couldn’t care less if he was drunk, stoned, tripping, or sober, it is inexcusable.


salty
Participant
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Oh yeah, the fact they put up new signs was also an element of the defense. I mean, there was clearly no “don’t get stoned and run over someone” sign at that intersection, how the hell could he be responsible for what happened?


Impala26
Participant
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@ajbooth

As pathetic as reactionary measures seem, they are quite welcome around here when the usual response is “do nothing”. I wish it happened more in this area to be frank.

Was anything done along Harts Run Rd. between Dorseyville Rd. and Saxonburg Blvd. in the months following Don Parker’s death? I’m pretty sure nothing at all. Even a token “SLOW Dangerous Curve” sign would be welcome in these cases I think.


ajbooth
Participant
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@impala26, I agree about the reactionary measures, they are rare. I would bet that you are right about Hart’s Run Road.

@salty, I sort of wish they had allowed the jury to see the intersection. While they would have seen the reactionary improvements, they also would have observed the fact that if he HAD stopped, there was no way for him to not see her. At that intersection, looking in the direction she was coming from, you can see 400-500 feet easily.


ejwme
Participant
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I didn’t think the Harts Run was on a curve. Perhaps a sign there saying “DANGER – FLAT STRAIGHT ROAD WHERE YOU COULD KILL SOMEONE ONLY IF YOU DON’T DESERVE A LICENSE” just isn’t snappy enough for a road sign.

I wonder how stoned they had to get the jury to make sure it was of the driver’s “peers”.

Gives a whole new meaning to “WATCH FOR CHILDREN” signs, as people of a stunted, irresponsible, permanent childhood type mentality are now prone to being behind the wheel killing people, defending them in court, and determining whether they’re responsible for their actions in court.

ajbooth – you can only see that far if you look in that direction with open eyes and a mind clear enough to recognize what’s being seen.


ajbooth
Participant
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ejwme, I hear you. I am convinced the kid was stoned, and only slowed when his passenger screamed at him to stop. Slow reactions, lack of general awareness, classic signs. It pains me to pass through that intersection and realize what happened there. I met Brett Styles at a memorial run in June, and had a chance to talk to him. Although he is a very strong man, I can’t fathom what this has done to him, and to those kids. And some stoned little a-hole is likely going to do little time for the crime. It’s just not right.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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…and back behind the wheel of a car the day he leaves prison.


sprite
Participant
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It also saddens me to have a conversation with someone who can only see these incidents from the driver’s perspective: you make one mistake that “could happen to anyone” (!) and your life is “over” (yes, figuratively … how about the victim who made no mistake and it is literally over? But no… can’t imagine that happening to a loved one I guess.)


Pierce
Participant
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@ Stu + 1

I don’t see the use in putting this kid behind bars for life, just take his license away for a long time


reddan
Keymaster
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+1 Pierce. He has clearly demonstrated that he is not qualified to operate a motor vehicle. (Ever, in my vengeful little fantasies…)


ajbooth
Participant
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I do think he needs a long jail sentence. This goes beyond just operating a vehicle. The kid apparently got stoned pretty regularly, and thought nothing of getting behind the wheel. I think it is about being self centered, and unconcerned about the consequences of an action, any action. By all accounts (including those of his neighbors, who I know) this kid was a time bomb. Sitting in jail for a long time will teach him that actions have consequences.

Just this man’s opinion.


salty
Participant
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I think once he gets off with probation he’ll just learn his coddled rich-kid existence is still A-OK and he can literally get away with murder.


spakbros
Participant
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This makes me quake with rage just about every day


Pierce
Participant
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“Sitting in jail for a long time will teach him that actions have consequences.”

But will it teach him to be considerate of others and how his actions might affect them?

I doubt he thought he was going to run over a mother when he left that day just like flip flop boy probably didn’t think he was going to run over a guy.

He thought he could safely operate a motor vehicle after smoking pot, he was probably wrong. (I say probably because we have untold number of fatalities related to motor vehicles where being under the influence of a drug wasn’t a factor)

I mean they have PSAs about exactly this thing. See the one where stoned kids run over a girl on a bike?

So it’s not like all these people are self-centered and unconcerned about their consequences, they probably just don’t think they’re going to hurt somebody.


ajbooth
Participant
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I don’t know this particular kid, but people I do know and respect who DO know him all say the same thing. Their only surprise is that something like this didn’t happen sooner. And words like arrogant, self-centered, and oblivious are in every description I’ve heard from people who know this kid.

I’m sure he didn’t set out from his house that day and say “I’m going to kill a woman with my car today.” But that’s what he did. The fact that he didn’t intend for it to happen is where the “involuntary” comes from in “involuntary manslaughter.” But you can’t ignore the manslaughter part.


Mick
Participant
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Seems to me that a few years in jail is about right for a crime that was an accident. A few years is by no means a “little” time.

I doubt that a longer sentence would teach anyone anything. Justice, in my opion, doesn’t require a longer sentence.

It’s important that people get punished, for sure. And someone died. But it isn’t like he deliberately hurt anyone.

Dr. Christopher Thomas, the LA rage guy that tried to hurt bicyclists got 5 years -but what he did was deliberate.

It isn’t exactly clear what the results of tge kid’s drug test meant. Marijuna will show up on a tox screen for weeks, if not months, after smoking, if you search hard enough.

If he had been drinking a lot the night before the accident, he would be legal to drive, no matter how hungover he was. He would be a much greater hazard than smoking the night before, in my opinion.


ajbooth
Participant
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I disagree Mick. There is a difference between a pure accident, and one which is entirely preventable. If your brakes fail in your car and you crash, that’s an accident. If you drive knowing that your brakes are faulty, that’s a preventable accident. This kid could have greatly reduced the chance of such an accident by a) not driving stoned and b) stopping at the stop sign. Read the post above from Lou M. with the quotes from the husband. Much of what he says in the second paragraph, while compelling, had to be ignored by the jury in the case for varying legal reasons. It doesn’t change what he did, it just lessens his legal accountability for it.

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