Gross Vehicular Manslaugher, Jury Trial April 2017
NOT GUILTY JURY VERDICT
I represented a young client, who was attending Evergreen Valley College, located at the top of the hill on Yerba Buena Avenue in San Jose, California. He was on his way down Yerba Buena Avenue on the first day of school on January 26, 2015 when his car was struck by car driven by another EVC student. The two vehicles skid across the road, jumped a curb, hit a guard rail on the West side of the street. My client’s car came to rest a few feet from the guard rail. The other vehicle hit a large Redwood tree. The back end of that vehicle swung around and hit a 15,000 pound ATT service truck and moved it three feet forward.
When emergency personnel pulled the other driver’s vehicle away from the large Redwood tree they found the body of a young woman crushed between the vehicle and tree.
Witnesses told police that it appeared that the drivers of the vehicles were racing down Yerba Buena Avenue. Both drivers were arrested and charged with felony violation of Gross Vehicular Manslaugher. My client gave a statement. He was not racing. He saw the other vehicle being driven very fast and lost control as it passed by his vehicle, striking him causing them both to skid onto the sidewalk. At the time of their interviews, neither young man knew that the police had found the dead pedestrian.
My client passed a polygraph test administered by one of America’s foremost polygraph experts, Ronald Hilley. My client was NOT racing at the time of the accident or immediately prior to the accident. The District Attorney’s office was provided a video copy of the polygraph and the report, and continued the prosecution in spite of the polygraph test results.
I hired Accident Reconstruction Expert, Chris Kauderer, who examined the “skid marks” left by both vehicles and using measurements of the centrifugal tire marks, the weight of the vehicles and the damage of the vehicles and the guard rail, determined that my client was traveling approximately 42 miles per hour in a 40 m.p.h. speed zone at the time that he was struck by the other vehicle. By the same methodology, he determined that the speed of the other vehicle was approximately 72 m.p.h. at the time that the vehicle lost control and began the long skid, followed by first striking the guard rail, then hitting the redwood tree and moving the ATT Service Truck three feet and coming to rest. The DA’s accident reconstruction agreed with the calculations of Defense Expert, Chris Kauderer.
We were able to keep out the statement of witnesses that the drivers of both vehicles were racing as speculation and beyond lay witness’ qualifications to testify and prejudicial to my client. Although, the District Attorney tried to argue that the two drivers were racing, her argument was not supported by any admissible evidence. The jury found my client NOT GUILTY.