Category Archives: carlaw

Mejia guilty of neg hom and hit-and-run in death of Walmsley

This is remarkable only in that the county attorney sought negligent homicide charges…

From an earlier azcentral story “On May 2, 2007, Mejia was arrested after deputies obtained a search warrant and gathered evidence from a Ford F-350 pickup truck linked to the hit-and-run suspect” .  The article doesn’t mention any allegations of evidence tampering(?).

Arizona Superior Court Docket CR2007-006287,  All case minutes. Here’s the Warrant to search the large 2007 pickup truck involved. Sentencing Minute from 6/17/2008 — I guess fairly standard, the charges are deemed “non-dangerous” and thus you can get a light sentence the negligent homicide is an F4 (class 4 felony; smaller number are more serious). One oddity was the hit-and-run was listed as an F3, whereas it should have been an F2 (because the defendant clearly caused the collision by driving on the wrong side of the road).

There are a lot of case minutes, including a request to be released early from probation, and numerous requests to revoke probation; finally in the 4/18/2014 minute “Defendant admits violation of probation for condition 1” (whatever that is, i can’t find it in the sentencing minute). It doesn’t seem like anything bad happened.

Mejia TR-200701627 speeding 2/28/2007 in Avondale Muni; dismissed w/driving school; a couple of months before he caused the fatal crash.

These cases from 2013/14 seem to have something only to do with the original case’s restituation, not a new criminal beef:  CR2013-462094 and CR2014-110154

 

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Avondale man gets 3 years in cyclist’s hit-run death
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Arizona Republic, The (Phoenix, AZ)-June 20, 2008
Author: Brent Whiting, The Arizona Republic

An 18-year-old Avondale man has been sentenced to three years in prison for killing a cyclist in a hit-and-run traffic crash.

Victor Manuel Mejia, who pleaded guilty to charges of negligent homicide and leaving the scene of a serious injury accident, also was placed on a five-year probationary term.

The sentence was handed down last Friday in Maricopa County Superior Court after relatives of Mejia and the victim, Bob Walmsley, were offered a chance to address the judge.

Walmsley, 65, of Sun City West, was killed April 9, 2007, while he and other cyclists were pedaling on 99th Avenue in the Southwest Valley, south of Interstate 10 near Southern Avenue.

He was hit by the driver of a pickup truck who was traveling north on 99th Avenue and was trying to pass another vehicle. The driver fled after striking Walmsley, according to sheriff’s investigators.

On May 2, 2007, Mejia was arrested after deputies obtained a search warrant and gathered evidence from a Ford F-350 pickup truck linked to the hit-and-run suspect.

Walmsley, a cycling enthusiast, moved to Arizona in 2000 after retiring in California as an engineer and computer programmer.

License Plate Covers

Apparently the existing law, §28-2354, which requires that vehicle license plates be displayed “clearly legibly” isn’t clear enough for police, who don’t seem to enforce that law.

Thus House Bill HB2250 (48th legislature, 2nd regular session, 2008) which would make the rules about covers crystal clear: “…a person shall not apply a covering or any substance to the license plate”.

Unfortunately, the provision is tangled up with the abortion debate — strange but true! It turns out the cover thing is in a bill involving special license plates… thus the controversy.

And as if one controversy wasn’t enough, the cover thing is clearly aimed at would-be camera violators.

By the way, probably the most controversial use of photo enforcement was speed cameras on a section of Loop 101 in Scottsdale. ASU engineering professor Simon Washington’s research has consistently showed only good things in terms of safety and even a time savings due to reduced speed — that is the time savings due to fewer crashes more than offset the time lost by lower speed. See Speed cameras help travel time, report says, Arizona Republic,May 13, 2008.

Unmentioned and unquantified in the report are not only fuel consumption, and air pollution benefits. Mean speeds were reduced from 73 before to 64 mph after enforcement. Vehicles’ toxic NOX pollution increases substantially with increased speed. NOX turns into ozone.

Insurance Considerations

Bicycling & the LawI’m reading Bob Mionske’s excellent book Bicycling & the Law (available from velogear), here is what I distilled out of the section on car insurance and liability systems as it relates to Arizona.

Arizona operates on the traditional “tort liability” system. By comparison, the three other systems used in decreasing order of popularity are: no fault, hybrid, and choice. Continue reading Insurance Considerations

Driver arrested in quintuple(!) fatality — excessive speed and red-light-running alledged

A driver was arrested on suspicion of five counts of manslaughter (see homicide categories) and 3 aggravated assaults. What makes this unusual is the absence of suspicion of DUI. We shall see what the prosecutor does with it. This is a tantalizing comment: “data recorded when the truck’s airbags deployed substantiated detectives’ findings that Myers was driving at ‘an excessive speed,’ “. Data recorder? We (the public) often hear that these sorts of crashes are tragedies but not crimes — because the prosecutor claims that they can’t prove anything. Continue reading Driver arrested in quintuple(!) fatality — excessive speed and red-light-running alledged

Double Jeopardy and Flawed Logic

ARS §28-1592 specifies the time limit for bringing a civil traffic violation. Sort of like the “statute of limitations” for traffic tickets. The normal limit is 60/90 days, but for alleged violations when there is a wreck and investigation the limit is 180 days, and extends to a full year if a fatality is involved.

The rub is that police (cities? jurisdictions?) won’t issue complaints for a traffic violation if there is any sort of ongoing investigation, an incipient neg hom/manslaughter charge for example… and these things do seem like they can drag on forever. They appear to do this in an overabundance of caution — claiming “double jeopardy” issues. As far as I can tell there can be no double jeopardy between civil and criminal.

The end result is that drivers who would clearly be found responsible for a traffic infraction frequently end up getting off scot free; when the criminal case falls through for whatever reason. See e.g. Kandas. Or sometimes it is just an oversight on the part of police. It seems clear that the driver responsible for the Eades fatality could have / should have been cited for §28-701 “failure to control”.

Talk about getting away with murder…

Yet police didn’t confiscate her driver’s license. Had this been a DUI case, Sgt. Joel Tranter told me, they would have taken it and notified the state Motor Vehicle Division so it could administratively suspend Gilbert’s license. But police don’t pursue DUI charges in manslaughter cases, for fear of jeopardizing the more serious charges.

“The (administrative suspension) law does not apply to homicide or aggravated assault cases because those are criminal,” Tranter explained. “They aren’t traffic investigations.”

In other words, if you drive drunk, you lose your license. But if you drive drunk and kill someone, you can keep driving.

Hentoff [the victim’s family’s attorney] calls the police department’s interpretation of the law “absolutely flawed logic.”

Driver in DUI-death case still at the wheel, Laurie Roberts, The Arizona Republic. Aug. 25, 2007

We’ve heard this double jeopardy business before from the police department, Continue reading Double Jeopardy and Flawed Logic