A former Pittsburgh police officer was sentenced to 1 to 2 years alternative housing this morning for homicide by vehicle.
Adam Lewis, 31, was found guilty in a nonjury trial before Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey A. Manning in October.
Jessica Lojak, 28, of Fawn was killed Sept. 26, 2010, while riding on a motorcycle with Lewis on Mifflin Road.
They had just left a bachelorette party for Lewis’ now-wife on the South Side, and both the prosecution and defense stipulated he had a blood-alcohol level of 0.108 that night. There also was testimony that Lewis was traveling 15 mph over the posted speed limit when he lost control of the motorcycle on a sharp curve on Mifflin Road about 2:30 a.m.
Judge Manning found that Lewis’ reckless driving was the result of the crash, but he found him not guilty of homicide by vehicle while DUI, which would have required a mandatory 3- to 6-year prison term.
Too bad “the people” aren’t allowed to appeal. If he stipulated to having a BAC > 0.08 then exactly what reading of the relevant laws allows this ruling?
It’s bullshit. It’s bad enough people get off when the laws are too vague, but in this case the conditions are spelled out very explicitly, and he still gets off.
§ 3735. Homicide by vehicle while driving under influence.
(a) Offense defined.–Any person who unintentionally causes the death of another person as the result of a violation of section 3802 (relating to driving under influence of alcohol or controlled substance) and who is convicted of violating section 3802 is guilty of a felony of the second degree when the violation is the cause of death and the sentencing court shall order the person to serve a minimum term of imprisonment of not less than three years. A consecutive three-year term of imprisonment shall be imposed for each victim whose death is the result of the violation of section 3802.
§ 3802. Driving under influence of alcohol or controlled substance.
(a) General impairment.–
(1) An individual may not drive, operate or be in actual physical control of the movement of a vehicle after imbibing a sufficient amount of alcohol such that the individual is rendered incapable of safely driving, operating or being in actual physical control of the movement of the vehicle.
(2) An individual may not drive, operate or be in actual physical control of the movement of a vehicle after imbibing a sufficient amount of alcohol such that the alcohol concentration in the individual’s blood or breath is at least 0.08% but less than 0.10% within two hours after the individual has driven, operated or been in actual physical control of the movement of the vehicle.
(b) High rate of alcohol.–An individual may not drive, operate or be in actual physical control of the movement of a vehicle after imbibing a sufficient amount of alcohol such that the alcohol concentration in the individual’s blood or breath is at least 0.10% but less than 0.16% within two hours after the individual has driven, operated or been in actual physical control of the movement of the vehicle.
This isnt the only DUI case with a questionable ruling/interpretation by Judge Manning . Oddly, this one involves another motorcycle too.
Manning was also the Judge for this dui case of the off duty cop shooting an innocent person in Southside that led to him getting back on the police force.
He also sentenced cop-killer Popalawski to death and has a son who is a sheriff. http://triblive.com/news/adminpage/5237933-74/manning-judges-attorney#axzz2pezo30lg
Not trying to trivialize Popalawski’s hideous crime here.
This is clearly a judge who will always act with great empathy (and leniency where applicable) towards officers of the law.
“Wise beyond his years” 9-year-old run over and killed by NYC taxi driver, who gets $300 citation for failure to yield.
“As the Post points out, at least 21 cab drivers have fatally struck pedestrians in the last five years, and only one has been given criminal charges.”
To play a little Devil’s Advocate, not knowing the details, I do think there’s a difference between killing one of your own voluntary passengers and killing someone who did not choose to ride with a drunken driver.
I still think the penalty should be higher than it is (and higher than the status quo for DUIs in general), but it seems reasonable that the penalty would be lower in this case than if he had killed an unrelated road user. Don’t know if that figured into it.
I’m not concerned TOO much about these accidental deaths getting a slap on the wrist — they are something like a one in a thousand combination of a pedestrian being in the wrong place and a driver not looking — as with enforcement of the laws about crosswalks in general. Every driver should be very aware when they are entering a crosswalk that they will get a ticket if a pedestrian is trying to cross. Which it is in California, because they enforce the law. In this part of the country they really don’t, and people in general don’t even know about the law. I’ve stopped my car for pedestrians in crosswalks and everybody is completely confused, pedestrians and drivers behind me both.
You don’t get good compliance with the law just by rigorously enforcing it only in the rare case when someone gets killed. You get it when there’s a good likelihood that you’ll be caught and punished all the time.
That said, the particular case cited by BB made me heartsick. I read the obit and it’s clear that a great light went out of the parent’s lives, and the lives of many other people. That was a really great kid, and his death was a loss to all of us.
jonawebb wrote:You don’t get good compliance with the law just by rigorously enforcing it only in the rare case when someone gets killed.
jonawebb wrote:I’ve stopped my car for pedestrians in crosswalks and everybody is completely confused, pedestrians and drivers behind me both.
my girlfriend was actually rear-ended pretty hard on friendship avenue when she stopped to let a special needs fella cross the street. in that case, we were lucky he was confused by the whole thing, because after being rear-ended, we ended up pretty much right in the crosswalk.
so yeah, the (very apologetic, of course) girl who hit us expressed surprise that we were stopped there. of course, she still should have stopped, and her insurance company agreed, but it remains quite sad how we as a culture truly don’t seem to know that we should stop at crosswalks.
Or that we’re following too closely to allow time to react to sudden stops, going too fast, or usually both
HiddenVariable wrote:…but it remains quite sad how we as a culture truly don’t seem to know that we should stop at crosswalks.
Pierce wrote:Or that we’re following too closely to allow time to react to sudden stops, going too fast, or usually both
Basically both part of the same problem: the norm is driving that highly risks fatalities uncessarily. We veiw the resulting deaths to be some act of nature, rather than the predictable result of bad driving.
We’ll only get people respecting crosswalks if we start enforcing the law. And it’s quite possible to do that. For example, http://southpasadena.patch.com/groups/editors-picks/p/police-issue-114-citations-during-crosswalk-enforcement-operation. You just have some cops handing out tickets, and people learn really fast. And the action would pay for itself, from the fines.
The same would apply to drunk driving — stop drivers weekend nights and check for sobriety. People would learn fast.
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